Manitoba

CN apologizes to rancher 'kept in the dark' after oil-carrying train cars derailed

A rancher whose land is being cleaned up after a CN derailment sent dozens of crude oil-carrying cars toppling onto his western Manitoba property says the company has apologized for not immediately reaching out to him after the incident.

Jayme Corr, initially frustrated CN failed to reach out, says misunderstanding led to lack of communication

A train derailed about 10 kilometres south of St. Lazare, Man., in the rural municipality of Ellice-Archie, on Saturday. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

A rancher whose land is being cleaned up after a CN derailment sent dozens of oil-carrying cars toppling onto his western Manitoba property says the railway company has apologized for not immediately reaching out to him after the incident.

On Saturday, 37 train cars carrying crude oil derailed on Jayme Corr's property near St. Lazare, about 300 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border. No one was injured, though some of the cars leaked oil.

Corr complained Sunday that no one from CN had called or visited him nearly two days after the event.

Then the phone rang: someone from CN called Corr Sunday night after CBC News reported the rail company had failed to reach out to him immediately after the derailment. On Monday, he got a face-to-face and a tour of the site where crews continue to clean up.

"When something like this happens it's not good to be kept in the dark, right, when you don't know what's happening on your own land," he said over the phone Monday night.

"But it was good today when I actually did get up there to see actually what was going on, and for them to kind of explain what the process was there."

A pool of oil can be seen at the site where a train derailed near St. Lazare, Man., Saturday. (Supplied photo)

CN said none of the oil leaked into the Assiniboine River and cleanup efforts are ongoing.

"CN apologizes for the inconveniences caused by our unfortunate derailment and would like to thank the first responders who attended the derailment site," a CN spokesperson wrote in an email Monday.

"Today, CN Executive Vice President Sean Finn, spoke directly with Mr. Jayme Corr, the owner of the Ranch near St-Lazare, MB, where the derailment occurred on Saturday morning, to discuss how best to remedy any damages stemming from the derailment and to reassure him that we will be working closely with him and his family in the coming days."

Corr said his initial frustrations with having not been contacted were tempered by the conversations he had with Finn and others.

"They basically said I'm welcome there whenever I want, just call and if I want to go and they'll take me for another tour."

The 37 crude oil cars derailed around 3:30 a.m. Saturday. A CN spokesperson says the company is still investigating the cause. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

The communication breakdown appeared to be a misunderstanding, he said, as CN thought a representative had already made contact with him when in fact that wasn't the case.

He said CN was unable to give him an estimate of how long it would take to clean up the spill and train cars.

Corr will also have to wait on environmental testing that will determine if the leak was sufficiently contained.

"Of course I've got concerns, but from what they explained today it's a process and it goes on until the test results say there's no more oil there," he said.

"It takes as long as it going to take, right? Not something you rush through."

CN said the cause of the derailment remains under investigation and the rail line through Corr's property reopened Sunday.

An aerial view of the spill in St. Lazare, Man., on Saturday. (Submitted by Cassidy Hruska)

About the Author

Bryce Hoye

Reporter

Bryce Hoye is an award-winning journalist and science writer with a background in wildlife biology. Before joining CBC Manitoba, he worked for the Canadian Wildlife Service monitoring birds in Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, Nova Scotia and Alberta. Story idea? Email bryce.hoye@cbc.ca.

With files from Jade Markus

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