Water advocacy group 'not worried' about sulphuric acid leaking from train derailment

One of the 46 train cars that derailed in the tunnel Friday was carrying sulphuric acid, which started to leak.

Rail safety expert says there's likely more than one cause for the derailment

A view of the train derailment closer to the tracks in Port Huron, MI (Amy Dodge/CBC)

Dangerous goods experts from CN Rail are still pumping the leaking sulphuric acid from the St. Clair River rail tunnel. 

In a statement, CN said third-party contractors are also assisting with the cleanup. The work will continue until all the sulphuric acid has been removed or neutralized.

The leak is contained to the tunnel and does not pose a health or environmental risk. Sheri Faust, president of the Friends of St. Clair River non-profit organization said everyone involved in the cleanup has stayed connected. 

"We've been able to stay connected to make sure everything has been taken care of properly," said Faust, adding that the group had no concerns as the situation was evolving. "We were very plugged in. We were never alarmed or worried."

Faust said drills are done regularly for emergency situations such as this one. 

"We do drills for when there is some sort of chemical spill in the river so that we test the response system, the communications system," said Faust. "We were ready."

CN said crews are working "around the clock" to remove train cars and track pieces from the tunnel. As of Monday afternoon, about 20 of the 46 train cars had been removed.

An early-morning derailment inside the St. Clair River tunnel slowed international train traffic but resulted in no injuries. (James Freed/Facebook)

According to CN, there is no damage to the "permanent infrastructure," but they do expect to have to replace the track. In addition to removing train cars, CN is also focused on rerouting train traffic to ensure the rail lines aren't at a standstill.

While an investigation is underway as to the cause of the derailment, one rail safety expert said it's likely more than one cause. 

"Like any major transport infrastructure, railways, such as tunnels and running gear, need vigilant monitoring to maintain safe and efficient travel," said Gordon Lovegrove, professor in the school of engineering at the University of British Columbia.

"In these major infrastructure systems, failures are rarely due to one cause."

There is no word on how long the investigation might take. 



To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.