A Vancouver climate-change activist has questioned CN Rail safety procedures the wake of this weekend's derailment of three coal cars next to a creek in Burnaby.
"Everyone knew that there was going to be extremely heavy rain this weekend," Kevin Washbrook of Voters Taking Action on Climate Change told the Straight by phone. "So it shouldn’t be a surprise that these rail lines next to creeks are at risk. I think this calls into question how closely CN is monitoring the safety of its rail lines. Coal trains are long and heavy."
CP Rail was operating the 152-car train on the CN line when three cars tipped over near Brighton Avenue and Government Street.
Coal spilled into the creek.
Washbrook said that photos from the scene indicate that the track was "undermined" by the water.
He added that the coal was on its way to Neptune Terminals in North Vancouver.
"Last January in 2013, the port authority pushed through expansion plans that could mean up to a tripling of coal exports at Neptune," Washbrook said. "That was without any local input.... Whether it’s the port authority or the rail lines, they make decisions without any input from local governments or regional governments. That’s not good enough anymore.”
Washbrook claimed that Port Metro Vancouver is a "thoroughly unaccountable organization that serves no interest except for its own".
"We think that the port authority’s governance needs to be broken apart," he said. "The port should be reduced to essentially a landlord that looks after leaseholders—the efficient movement of goods. And oversight of all of those processes and approvals should be handed over to independent agencies like Environment Canada and Health Canada."