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.