It seems that CN is now experiencing its share of derailments with three reported in the last couple of weeks. What are we supposed to think and do in Parry Sound? These derailments certainly have not been of the same magnitude as Lac-Megantic in terms of property and lives lost, but they also have a less obvious cause. These accidents weren’t a one in a million event, they seem to be the collateral damage expected as part of normal rail operations. The type of operations that that we see in Parry Sound 24/7/52.
The derailments included tankers carrying crude oil, propane and anhydrous ammonia, resulting in significant evacuations. I have noted previously that these materials roll through Parry Sound (just check the hazardous codes on the side of the tankers if you want to check it yourself). Once again the local fire and rescue teams were not provided with the necessary information to ensure that the most appropriate safety measures were quickly implemented. And with the remote location of the derailments it took time for the railway crews to arrive and provide the necessary information.
In the case of the most recent Gainford Alberta derailment the decision has been made to just let the fire burn itself out. Not in my backyard? Well this is a case where you really don’t have much choice. The railways make the rules with the public and governments expected to comply.
Here are a couple of links to websites that focus on rail safety you might want to take a look at for a more ‘critical’ analysis of the situation. Of course http://cbc.ca offers its consistently good coverage as well.
Still on Track (Parry Sound in Black & White)