CN service resumes after fiery Sask. derailment

Toronto | Reuters — Canadian National Railway (CN) resumed service on a line in east-central Saskatchewan Wednesday after workers removed debris from a fiery train derailment that occurred a day earlier and led to evacuation of a nearby village.

Twenty-six cars derailed near Clair, Sask., about 75 km east of Humboldt, on Tuesday. Six of the derailed cars were carrying dangerous goods and two of the cars, loaded with petroleum distillate, caught fire.

The four other derailed cars carrying dangerous goods were intact. Two were hauling hydrochloric acid and two were hauling caustic soda.

The train, traveling from Winnipeg to Saskatoon, had three locomotives and was pulling 100 cars, of which 60 were empty, the federal Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said Wednesday.

The train was westbound at about 65 km/h at about 10:30 MT Tuesday morning when “a train-initiated brake application occurred,” the TSB said.

CN spokesman Jim Feeny said earlier Wednesday that air, soil and water quality tests were being conducted in the area and crews were “rebuilding the track. That will take a few hours.”

CN said later Wednesday the site was cleared as of 1:30 p.m. and the railway’s customers could expect “minimal delays” as operations returned to normal.

There were no injuries associated with the derailment and nearby residents were allowed to return home Wednesday. Neither of the train’s two crew members were injured, the TSB said.

Feeny said the fire had burned itself out.

Derailments have become a particularly sensitive issue in Canada since a crude oil train crash in Lac-Megantic, Que., in July 2013 that killed 47 people.

Feeny declined to comment on what type of tank car was carrying the distillate, saying that information was part of the TSB’s investigation. There has been much discussion about the safety of older tank-car models since the Lac-Megantic disaster.

The TSB said Wednesday it has three investigators inspecting the derailment site and wreckage and emphasized it’s “too soon to draw any conclusions.” Data from the locomotive event recorder has been reviewed, the train’s crew members have been interviewed and pieces of rail have been sent to the TSB lab in Ottawa for analysis.

Feeny would not identify the owner of the distillate, saying it was confidential customer information.

Reporting for Reuters by Solarina Ho in Toronto. Includes files from Network staff.

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