NEWS

Gogama derailment: fire extinguished, train cars pulled from river

03/10/2015 09:29 EDT | Updated 05/10/2015 05:59 EDT
The flames are out and the search for answers is beginning on the CN tracks near Gogama.

CN Rail says crews have extinguished the last of the fires from a train derailment in northern Ontario on Saturday.

And, spokesperson Jim Feeny said two cars that were in the river have been removed at the site of the derailment near Gogama, about 80 kilometres south of Timmins.

Feeny said they are now working to complete a temporary bypass around the derailment site and hope to have the line back in service late Tuesday afternoon.

Via Rail service between Toronto and Winnipeg has been suspended due to the derailment.

Investigators got closer and closer to the derailed oil tankers yesterday as the smouldering wreckage cooled down.

And today, finding out why those cars jumped the tracks and how much oil was spilled becomes the top priority.

Four recent derailments

Public health officials came to Gerald Potvin's lakeside home and told him not to drink the water from his private well.
But, he says his tapwater has never tasted better. While he's worried about whether the oil spill up stream will mean fewer fish for him to catch, Potvin says he's more worried about the railroad.

"It tells me something about CN. If I have four car accidents, they take me off the road."

The rail company has had four derailments in northern Ontario since the start of the year — two of them fiery crashes of oil tankers in the Gogama area.

Finding out why will take time. Feeny said it's best to wait for investigators to do their job.

"Once we have facts and once we have a clear idea of what happened in each of these, we'll know what steps need to be taken." 

Residents worry about lake health

Steps are being taken to protect the Mattagami River system from the oil spill, even though it's not known how much is in the water. Dozens of samples are being taken for testing, and booms have been set up to keep the crude from moving downstream.

The Transportation Safety Board will be trying to find out why the 35 oil tankers derailed on Saturday and burst into flames. Environmental investigators will now start finding out how much damage was done to the Mattagami River system.

Meanwhile, Norm Roy was told to drink from a bottle instead of his well water.

But he's not listening.

"Tastes good," he said of the water from his well that is just steps from Lake Minisinakwa, downstream from the oil spill.

While he's not worried about his water, he is worried about his lake.

"Right now the water might be screwed up. There's no way that's going to be good for the fish."

Chad Boissoneau will be part of the construction crew helping to clean up the wreckage, but he's also thinking about the fish.

"As soon as I can get there that's my first objective, to go take a look at the water."

He's leading a community effort to boost the pickerel population with over a million hatchlings. But, now he's not sure if any of the fish will survive this spill.

​Boissoneau said oil tankers fell into a protected spawning bed, where the pickerel are getting ready to lay their eggs.

"Time is of the essence right now with this crude oil spill, because it's the season the spawn happens in."

The big environmental question to be answered today is just how much Alberta crude is now in these northern Ontario waters.

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