Wadena train derailment highlights risks of Canada moving oil and other hazardous materials by rail

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      Today (October 7), a train carrying hazardous materials derailed outside the town of Wadena, Saskatchewan.

      Photographs of the accident show that some cars had caught on fire. Large clouds of thick black smoke billowed into the air.

      According to an early CBC News report, the CN Rail train was carrying chemicals including anhydrous ammonia, a toxic substance used in the production of fertilizer. Other cars appeared to be loaded with oil, the CBC article states.

      In July 2014, the Georgia Straight published an in-depth cover story about a dramatic increase in the use of trains to move oil through British Columbia.

      According to Transport Canada, the number of railcars that carried crude oil and diluted bitumen through B.C. increased from 41 in 2011 to 3,381 in 2013.

      On a national scale, the numbers are even more dramatic.

      “The amount of crude oil now being shipped by rail in North America is staggering,” that story states citing information provided by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB). “In Canada in 2009, there were only 500 carloads of crude oil shipped by rail; in 2013, there were 160,000 carloads. In the U.S. in 2009, there were 10,800 carloads; and in 2013, there were 400,000 carloads.”

      The October 7 derailment occurred 17 kilometres west of Wadena and about 230 kilometres east of Saskatoon. Officials have said that smoke coming from the fire could be toxic. People are being kept back several kilometres from the scene of the accident.

      This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

      Read the Straight’s July 2014 story cover in its entirety: More trains moving oil through B.C. raise fears of a Lac-Mégantic disaster.

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      Oct 7, 2014 at 1:03pm

      Travis, What's the point of this story. Everyone already knows that moving hazardous materials by rail is dangerous. It's also dangerous to move hazardous materials by truck. SO WHAT'S YOUR SOLUTION??? Are you one of those people that believe we should just leave everything where it is?

      S. Morgan

      Oct 7, 2014 at 2:35pm

      "Blah"... Of course we need the railway but I can't be the only person out there who thinks "Great... Another derailment... and right on the heels of the railway's plan to UP the speed of its trains and... Saskatchewan? Not he Kicking Horse Pass? Not a sharp corner in downtown Calgary?" Everyone knows accidents happen but c'mon. If we're honest with ourselves, we also know that pipes will leak and boats will find themselves in trouble. The 'Tory Minister announcing this derailment in parliament today sound like an idiot. Sorry but we have to get this stuff figured out and it's going to cost.

      9 7Rating: +2


      Oct 7, 2014 at 2:59pm

      If they can't even run trains safely after so many years experience, what chance do they have with tankers?