Thunder Bay·Photos

Highway 17 reopens to one lane after train derailment

A stretch of highway 17 north of Lake Superior reopened to one lane in the wee hours this morning after 22 rail cars left the CP Rail track east of Nipigon, just before noon on Tuesday.

Motorists will be escorted by Schreiber firefighters, CP police

The Mayor of Nipigon, Richard Harvey, says he's happy with how quickly CP Rail brought local officials into the loop after the incident.
A stretch of highway 17 north of Lake Superior reopened to one lane in the wee hours this morning after 22 rail cars left the CP Rail track east of Nipigon, just before noon on Tuesday.

Some cars carried propane, so OPP had closed the Trans-Canada as a precaution between Nipigon and Schreiber until officials determined normal traffic could resume, except for at the accident site itself, where Schreiber firefighters and CP police could escort traffic in alternating directions.

A CP Rail spokesperson told CBC News today that one propane car had "a minor leak" which has now been sealed, but the contents of a second propane car had dissipated after the accident. The Transportation Safety Board confirms two cars leaked liquid propane gas.

The cause of the accident remains under investigation by the railway and the TSB, but CP's Salem Woodrow said the rail line is expected to be reopened by late tonight. 

Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey said CP contacted the local fire department immediately, allowing emergency crews to respond to the incident quickly.

The interaction was timely and appreciated, he noted.

Nipigon Mayor Richard Harvey. (CBC)
"The importance of having been working with, having communication, of having had a lot of discussions in regards to emergency procedures and things like that for this type of situation" has been top of mind as the community has been preparing for situations like these, Harvey said.

"I'm pleased that they did contact us. They contacted, of course, our fire department ... and [they] responded. [They were] very quick to let us know what procedures were in place, what was being done to address the issue."

The 22-car derailment has inconvenienced many people in the area, including those living or working on either side of the accident site near Gravel River, he added.

Officials were worried Tuesday about potential leaks from several cars that police initially reported were carrying propane and crude oil.  However, CP Rail later clarified that the train was not transporting crude.

"We're very thankful it looks like this was not one of those trains carrying large volumes of toxic material," Harvey noted.

The risk of train derailments is the price Nipigon pays for being near the railway, Harvey said, adding that preparation and planning is critical.

"The biggest concern is making sure things are kept safe, and emphasizing the importance of having safety protocols in place and the importance of looking at alternate methods of transporting dangerous materials."

No one was injured in the incident.

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