CN tracks re-open after train derails west of Edmonton

Train traffic is again moving this morning after a 13-car derailment near Peers, west of Edmonton Sunday.

Derailment about 90 km from crash in Gainford last month, CN says

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      Train traffic is again moving this morning after a 13-car derailment near Peers, west of Edmonton early Sunday morning.

      Patrick Waldron, a spokesperson for CN Rail, said the train derailed around 1 a.m. MT Sunday near Peers in Yellowhead County, about 180 kilometres west of Edmonton.

      Waldron said the 137-car train was en route from Prince George to Edmonton when it derailed.

      One of the derailed cars is a dangerous goods tanker carrying sulphur dioxide. The other 12 cars were loaded with lumber.

      The dangerous goods car is upright and not leaking, said Waldron, who added there are no environmental concerns or threats to the public at this time.

      Fire officials from Yellowhead County have been in touch with CN and have assessed the crash site, but firefighters were not needed.

      CN Rail crews are on the scene.

      The cause of the derailment remains under investigation; however, the Transportation Safety Board said it will not be sending investigators. 

      Nearby residents first thoughts were of Gainford

      Sunday's incident occurred along the same tracks as the 13-car derailment near Gainford only two weeks ago. The two derailments occurred about 90 kilometres apart.

      The TSB is still investigating the cause of that crash, which forced about 100 people from their homes for several days while crews worked to put out flames on two cars containing liquefied petroleum gas.

      Theresa Lytle, who works in Peers, told CBC’s Laura Osman her first reaction to the derailment was bafflement.

      “Really? So soon after the one at Gainford?” she said.

      Lytle said she was relieved to realize the derailed cars were primarily lumber, unlike the petroleum gas and crude oil that complicated the situation in Gainford.

      But she did say the derailment gave her pause for how the community would have been impacted should the incident have been more serious.

       “I was kind of wondering with the one at Gainford if it would happen here, with the houses being so close to the railroad.”

       Resident Erville Lennon echoed Lytle’s concerns, saying his first thought was concern for the people and environment near the derailment. 

      “You wonder what’s going on: are they maintaining their tracks or not maintaining their tracks for that to happen that quickly?” 

      Yellowhead County Mayor Gerald Soroka said Sunday's derailment did not impact his faith in CN. (Doug Steele/CBC)

       Yellowhead County Mayor Gerald Soroka said he’s aware the community got off relatively easy.

      “We only had a few issues arise from it," he said. "There was no loss of life, we didn’t have to shut down any major highways, we didn’t have to have our fire departments involved in this – so there were some benefits.” 

       And while he said the crash will likely spur CN to look more closely into their operations and day-to-day maintenance, he said he’s not too worried about future trains crossing through the county.

      “I do put a lot of trust and faith in CN,” he said. “I feel they’ve done a very good job keeping the train on the rails. I believe it’s always going to be a concern but hopefully it doesn’t ever happen – a derailment such as the one that happened in Quebec, for instance.” 

      Call to action

      Greenpeace spokesman Mike Hudema spoke out Sunday afternoon about the recent string of derailments.

      "This is another derailment that we're dealing with in a province that has already seen its fair share of derailments in the recent months. There really is a lot that we need to be doing to improve rail safety that is not being done."

      Hudema suggested Ottawa conduct an independent review of petrochemical transportation across the country. He said the public should also be told about the dangers associated with hazardous materials moving through their communities.

      "It's time that the federal government actually steps up and does its job."


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