Sudbury

Ontario bills CN $350K for Gogama derailment clean-up

The provincial government is billing CN Rail $350,000 for ministry assistance in cleaning up the Gogama train derailment sites.

Price tag is for ministry assistance with clean-up of two train crash sites

In March, a CN train carrying crude oil derailed near Gogama, Ont. It was the second derailment in the area is less than 3 weeks. (Transportation Safety Board)

The provincial government is billing CN Rail $350,000 for clean-up assistance at the sites of two train derailments near Gogama.

This past winter, two different CN oil tanker trains near Gogama derailed within a three week period. More than one million litres of crude oil were spilled and caught on fire. No one was injured.

Sudbury MPP Glen Thibeault, the parliamentary assistant to the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change, said the charges includes ministry staff salaries and laboratory costs associated with the spill.

"It's really does take us away from our core business that we need to do. We're going to ensure that we recoup these costs when these types of spills occur," Thibeault said.

Thibeault called the bill to the railway company the government's "line in the sand."

"Enough is enough. We need to start ensuring that they take these derailments seriously, especially when two happen so close together in such a close proximity to one another," he said.

The majority of the bill is for work done by the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change. It also includes bills from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care, the Ministry of Transportation, and the Ministry of Correctional Services.

"This is the first time we've done something like this," Thibeault said, adding that for years the provincial government had the authority to make a company responsible for a spill pay for a ministry's expenses.

Nickel Belt NDP MPP France Gelinas told CBC News this money is only to pay for the ministry's work assisting CN. It is not a penalty or for the cost of the clean-up itself. Gelinas said the price tag to clean the site is in the millions,a cost CN is responsible for.

It's not unprecedented for a ministry to charge for its help, she said.

Gelinas said sometimes a ministry will visit a spill and assess it, decide the work is adequate, but not bill the company.

"But when the ministry was involved in day-to-day, and had an active role to play in the clean-up, they tend to set up up-front what the ministry is willing to do to help the clean-up, and it is understood that a bill will come," she said.

"There is a role of oversight that the government plays to protect everybody in Ontario," Gelinas said. "But when the government starts to be part of the work, then they bill."

A spokesperson for CN said the railway company received the bill and was reviewing it, but would not comment further.

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