NEWS

CN investigates another fiery train derailment near Gogama

03/08/2015 05:36 EDT | Updated 05/08/2015 05:59 EDT
CN Rail says there's no sign that drinking water near the site of a train derailment in northern Ontario has been polluted.

A train hauling tanker cars with crude oil derailed yesterday morning near the community of Gogama, causing a fire and a spill into a local river system.

Canadian Press is reporting that CN says there's no indication the drinking water supply to Gogama and a nearby First Nation have been affected.

CN also says air monitoring systems have not detected any issues.

The company has launched its emergency response plan, bringing in its engineering, operating, environment and dangerous goods experts.

CN Chief Operating Officer Jim Vena has apologized to local residents for the disruption caused by the train wreck and is heading to the scene, about 80 kilometres south of Timmins.

This is the third CN derailment in northern Ontario in less than a month, and the second in the same area.

Nonetheless, it could be another nervous day for people in the small town of Gogama.

Firefighters are trying to control the flames and smoke from the burning oil tankers that derailed on the tracks, just four kilometres from town.

This while crews are still cleaning up a similarly fiery derailment near the community from just three weeks ago.

Rick Duguay woke early Saturday morning to a strange banging noise. Having spent his whole life in Gogama, he was used to the sound of trains, but knew this was different. And it was, with half a dozen cars bursting into flames and sending a black smoke towering over the town.

Duguay runs the general store, which like most of Gogama, is just steps from the railroad.

"Luckily it's not right here at the railroad crossing, but it's close enough and very hard to accept the things going on," said Duguay. But while he wants to see railroads made safer, he doesn't think these two fiery crashes will change much in the town.

"The worry was always there that a train wreck could happen in town just like everybody else, but I mean, we lived with it all our life."

Down the road from Gogama... and down stream from the derailment is Mattagami First Nation... where people were warned Saturday not to drink water from the river.

Morris Neveau says these two derailments so close together has unnerved many in his community.

"It affects our thinking and how we live, you know, because we live in fear, eh?"

While the intense heat of the fire has kept them away so far, today investigators hope to star finding how much oil was spilled and why these cars didn't stay on the tracks.

With a plume of black smoke looming over the town, people in Gogama spent most of the weekend asking questions.

33-year-old Dawn Simoneau was getting some of them from her two young daughters.

"Yeah, they have been. Like, 'Are the fish going to be OK?' and they are concerned as well."

This derailment comes just three weeks after another train carrying crude oil, also jumped the CN tracks near Gogama andd burst into flames. Like most in Gogama, Simoneau has lived her whole life with trains rumbling past and the background fear something might happen.

"You always had that 'this is just always the way it's been' and now more we're thinking 'what can we do now to make sure this doesn't happen again.'"

That has some talking about the Energy East oil pipeline... which has faced opposition in other parts of Northern Ontario. Nickel Belt New Democrat MP Claude Gravelle didn't want to get into that debate while visiting Gogama Saturday.

"Well, that's a different discussion for a different day, but there certainly are some concerns about pipelines, but there are concerns about rail cars. What's the safest? Accidents are accidents."

Investigators hope to learn more about the cause of this latest derailment on Sunday.

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