The Transportation Safety Board has confirmed between 15 to 20 cars, all carrying potash, left the tracks near Highway 13, about one kilometre outside the town of Wetaskiwin, Alta.
"It’s just a total wreck,” said Dale Aitchison, who came across the derailment shortly after it happened.
"They are pretty much crunched up and piled up on top of each other.”
While no one was injured in the derailment, Aitchison said the incident made him worry about the safety of having freight trains run so close to the town.
"There’s a lot of oil, a lot of gas around here. If that left the tracks, it would be devastating.”
The highway has been blocked off and a team of investigators with the safety board is expected to arrive on scene later in the afternoon.