Saskatchewan

Train derailment probe looking at state of tracks, equipment

The investigation into the fiery derailment of a CN train in Saskatchewan will include testing a sample of railway track from the scene, according to the Transportation Safety Board.

CN has agreed to pay for water testing

Two tanker cars containing petroleum products erupted into flames from the derailment Tuesday. Wadena News editor Alison Squires was among the first people on the scene. (Wadena News)
Investigators with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada check out debris from a derailment near Clair, Sask. (Transportation Safety Board)
The investigation into the fiery derailment of a CN train in Saskatchewan will include testing a sample of railway track from the scene, according to the Transportation Safety Board.

Experts from the TSB have been going through the rubble at the site of the crash, just outside Clair, Sask., a small community about 200 kilometres east of Saskatoon, since arriving on the scene Tuesday. A CN freight train made up of 100 rail cars derailed that morning. Two of the cars —  tankers holding petroleum products — erupted into flames.

We're very lucky that this happened outside of a heavily populated area.- Duane McKay, emergency management

The TSB said they have three investigators on site. While they said it was too soon to draw any conclusions, they did note that there were no issues with the operation of the train just prior to the crash.

"The team has reviewed data from the locomotive event recorder, interviewed the crew, and identified pieces of rail to be sent to the TSB's engineering laboratory in Ottawa for further analysis," officials from the TSB said Wednesday.

As well, the investigation will look at the condition of the rail bed and the rolling stock.

No injuries

There were no injuries from the derailment. There were two crew members on board at the time. The train, with a total of 100 cars, originated in Winnipeg and was on its way to Saskatoon.

Officials have lifted an evacuation order that was put in place affecting Clair and the area. About 30 people were out of their homes for less than 24 hours before the all-clear was given. The only people who didn't have friends to stay with were a few hunters at an outfitting camp in the area. Local officials were able to find a place for them to stay.

"We're very lucky that this happened outside of a heavily populated area," Duane McKay, Saskatchewan's director of emergency management, said Wednesday. "There was some impact in some of the hamlets, but overall we're very pleased with the way things went."

McKay said people in the area should consider having their water tested, but the province does not believe there was any contamination. CN has agreed to pay for water testing.

The area affected by the burning petroleum from two tanker cars was limited to property owned by CN. McKay noted that four other rail cars that contained hazardous materials did not leak.

Walter Hrappsted, who lives about eight kilometres south of Wadena, said the air was heavy with smoke from the fire following the derailment. (Madeline Kotzer/CBC)

The smell from the fire, however, was very strong and many people in the area were concerned about that.

Walter Hrappsted, who lives on a farm about eight kilometres south of Wadena, told CBC News his property was directly in line with the drifting smoke that billowed up from the site.

"I had a strong smell of smoke in the air and I was quite concerned," Hrappsted said. Even on Wednesday, he noted there was still a considerable amount of haze in the air.

On Wednesday, Ralph Bock, from the province's environment protection branch, said air quality tests showed no traces of contaminants that would affect people or animals.

[PHOTOGALLERY]

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