POLITICS

Mayor of Alberta town urges Ottawa to act after sixth train derailment

09/17/2014 03:18 EDT | Updated 06/16/2017 00:56 EDT
SLAVE LAKE, Alta. - A mayor of a town in northern Alberta says he's concerned after another train derailment near his community — the sixth since May.

Four engines and 21 rail cars of a Canadian National (TSX:CNR) train left the tracks a few kilometres east of Slave Lake on Tuesday afternoon.

Two of the rail cars that derailed were carrying dangerous jet fuel and sulphuric acid. All cars remained upright and there were no leaks or evacuations.

Mayor Tyler Warman said he wants Ottawa to evaluate the condition of the rail line and the causes of the derailments.

And he wants Transport Minister Lisa Raitt and Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan to meet with him and others in Slave Lake to come up with a solution to prevent any more.

"Our community is very concerned," Warman said Wednesday, adding that he has spent the past several months learning about the railway system, talking with CN officials and walking tracks with their inspectors.

"We understand that there's going to be things that happen and we understand that it's never going to be a perfect scenario. But six derailments in four months — we're talking upwards of almost a hundred train cars."

Warman said some rail cars that derailed earlier this year did spill their loads, but nothing hazardous — just grain and pulp.

"We've been very lucky. But sooner or later the luck's going to run out."

NDP MP Linda Duncan, who represents Edmonton-Strathcona, said in a statement that the government has stepped up regulation of dangerous cargo since the train disaster in Lac-Megantic, Que., killed 47 people.

But she said the rail sector, by and large, remains self-regulated.

"While other industrial sectors now face some level of public scrutiny and risk assessment, the rail sector remains exempted from most controls," she said.

"It is obvious that as rail is solely regulated by the federal government, it's time for it to intervene and engage concerned communities in prevention of further disasters."

CN spokeswoman Emily Hamer wouldn't comment on the previous derailments near Slave Lake but said the company is committed to safety.

"CN is reaching out to municipalities along its North American rail network to review its safety practices, share relevant information on dangerous goods traffic and discuss emergency response planning," she said.

"That outreach has included Slave Lake, where CN has had discussions about rail safety with Mayor Warman and will continue to do so."