NEWS

Protest planned as Calgary derailment cleanup continues

09/13/2013 08:16 EDT | Updated 11/13/2013 05:12 EST
As cleanup of overturned tankers carrying flammable liquids slowly continues at the Canadian Pacific Railway yard in southeast Calgary, there are some residents planning a protest this afternoon to voice their concerns about dangerous goods moving through their inner-city neighbourhood.

"People are starting to get fed up," said Ald. Gian-Carlo Carra, who represents the area.

"There has been a discussion for years about dangerous goods moving through the city on rail and that became a lot more of a focused conversation following the flood-related derailment of the collapse of the bridge, then Lac-Mégantic, and now we are dealing with this."

He said the relationship with CP Rail has been tenuous in the past. He said they need a clear set of regulations that lays out responsibilities and establishes safety protocals to protect the public and let first responders know what they are walking into.

"I think they want answers, right," said Carra. "I think that they are afraid and they have every reason to be afraid given recent events in Quebec."

Several cars carrying flammable liquids came off the tracks as a slow-moving train was heading northbound out of the Alyth Yard around 5 p.m. MT Wednesday.

There were no leaks or injuries, but more than 140 homes were evacuated as a precaution for a few hours because of the incident.

City officials said early Friday morning that three cars have had enough product removed and are almost ready to be taken away from the tracks — however, four cars are still derailed at the yard in Inglewood.

Crews said it's proving extremely challenging for the city to remove the product from the high-pressure rail cars. Fire officials say it is taking roughly four to six hours to move the product from each tanker into an empty car on an adjacent track

As work is still ongoing, the road closure of 15 Street between Blackfoot Trail and Ninth Avenue S.E. is still in effect.

Mayor to meet with CP Rail

A natural gas line was also ruptured by the derailed cars.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi is concerned there was difficulty in finding out from CP Rail what was in the derailed cars as fire crews arrived on the scene.

CP Rail says the product was diluent, which is used to thin petroleum products — including bitumen from the oilsands — to help transport them through pipelines.

"[Fire crews] manage situations in different ways based on things like the volatility of the chemical, the explosive point, the flash point and we need accurate, complete information right from the beginning," he said.

"We shouldn't have to search around for what was in those cars and certainly this week, we've learned that there may be a systemic problem in the railroad industry with mislabelling of contents of cars and that is a big issue."

Nenshi says the derailment raises questions about what trains are carrying and when they are moving. He says this most recent incident caused a lot more problems because it occurred during rush hour.

Nenshi is still upset about another derailment in the city and wants a meeting with CP's CEO Hunter Harrison.

CP Rail will not speculate about the cause of the derailment on its main line near the community of Inglewood, but can confirm a meeting between Harrison and the mayor is scheduled for next week.

This incident marks the third time CP has had train derailment issues within Calgary in recent months. Nenshi raised concerns about CP operations during June's floods when tanker cars derailed on the Bonnybrook bridge.

- Here are some notable Calgary train derailments. Click on the icons for more details about the number of train cars involved, if there were injuries and if the incident resulted in a spill.

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