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Train derailment near Fort Frances: ministry unsure how long cleanup will take

Ontario's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change says it doesn't know how long it will take to clean up the remnants of a trail derailment near Fort Frances, in northwestern Ont. late last week.
A CN Rail train derailed in the Fort Frances area, near Barwick, on Friday. (Facebook)
Ontario's Ministry of Environment and Climate Change says it doesn't know how long it will take to clean up the remnants of a trail derailment near Fort Frances, in northwestern Ont. late last week.

Fourteen cars went off the tracks. One breached, spilling a petroleum-based combustible liquid.

Ministry spokesperson Kate Jordan said CN has hired a clean-up company to mop up the spill, and the substances have been contained.

"Cleanup crews are at the site and we'll continue to make sure that material is disposed of properly," she said.

No impact to surface water

Jordan said there hasn't been an impact to any surface water nearby, including the Rainy River.

"Now our focus — as the cleanup work is progressing — is making sure that any waste materials or debris from the site that need to be removed are done properly, so that they're transported properly and then sent to a proper waste disposal site," she said.

Fort Frances Fire Chief Frank Sheppard said emergency officials are aware of the risks posed by derailments.

"They have potential. You would have to be living in a cave not to understand that there is some risk both to the environment and personnel, and to people, in relationship to these sorts of incidents occurring."

Sheppard noted about 100 people had to leave their homes. They have since been allowed to return.

Emergency crews also had to combat a large fire after the spill, which Sheppard said has been put out.

But overall, rail is "still a pretty safe mode of transportation," said Sheppard.

"If we think of the amount of material that's moving up and down the rail lines here across North America — and particularly this part of the world — there's a lot of it that goes through and we really don't have a lot of incidents," he said.

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