October 13, 2020 | News | No Comments
The fiery derailment of a train carrying petroleum products and other hazardous chemicals in Saskatchewan on Tuesday puts yet another “spotlight” on the dangers posed to people and planet by transporting oil and other hazardous materials, environmental groups charged on Wednesday.
Residents described the scene as a “flash of light,” after 26 of the train’s 100 cars went off the rails. According to a CN Rail representative, six of those cars carried hazardous materials: two laden with petroleum distillates, while the other four either held hydrochloric acid or caustic soda.
The accident occurred at roughly 10:40 AM CST. Nearby residents, including all those living in the town of Clair, Saskatchewan, were evacuated until Wednesday morning while school children were kept indoors because of concern over the hazardous smoke, which continued to billow from the site hours after the crash.
Tim Tschetter, who farms near the wreckage, described seeing the crash while driving nearby. “We seen a flash of light,” he told CBC. “It didn’t really make sense until we seen the smoke. Then we realized it was a fire or an explosion.”
No one has been reported injured. On Wednesday, investigators with Canada’s Transportation Safety Board arrived on the scene to determine a cause for the crash.
“The municipalities themselves, the communities have no power, no control, and in this case no information even over what’s being run through the rail lines.”
—Adam Scott, Environment Defence
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Environmental advocacy groups were quick to note that the crash serves to highlight the dangers of poor rail safety and the overall risks in transporting such hazardous materials—even as the oil and rail industries push to further degrade those standards.
“The freight rail lines actually go right through the center of almost every major urban center in the entire country, including small towns, communities across the country, so the risk of accidents is significant,” said Adam Scott of Environment Defence. Scott said that in Canada, rail companies, like CN Rail, are not required to publicly disclose the types of hazardous materials being transported on trains.
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