No mechanical defects on train that derailed in Saskatchewan: report

The Transportation Safety Board says its investigators have not found any mechanical defects on a train that derailed and spilled oil in rural Saskatchewan.

The Canadian Pacific Railway freight train jumped the tracks on Feb. 6 near Guernsey, about 115 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon.

The accident sent flames and thick black smoke into the air and spilled 1.2 million litres of crude oil.

There were no reported injuries, but 85 residents were evacuated from the area for more than 24 hours.

Another derailment in December about 10 kilometres away on the same set of tracks spilled 1.5 million litres of oil and also caused a fire.

The safety board says in a preliminary report that 32 of 104 tank cars carrying oil derailed and several cars were breached.

“A review of the locomotive event recorder download determined that the train was handled in accordance with regulatory and company requirements,” says the report released Friday.

It says there is significant interest in examining the tank cars because they became an industry standard after the deadly rail disaster in Lac-Megantic, Que., in 2013.

Each tank car is to be cleaned and inspected, the agency said. Investigators are working with the United States National Transportation Safety Board and tank-car manufacturer Trinity.

Any tank car and track components of interest recovered from the derailment site will be sent to the agency’s engineering laboratory in Ottawa for analysis.

“Once site work is complete, all available information will be reviewed in order to make a more accurate assessment of the tank car damage sustained and the amount of product released,” the report says.

“This work will take some time.”

Shortly after the derailment, the federal government ordered lower speed limits for all trains carrying large amounts of dangerous goods. CP and Canadian National are limiting permits for shipments of dangerous goods.

The TSB said the amount of oil released from the most recent derailment hasn’t been determined, but Saskatchewan’s Environment Ministry said last week that 1.2 million litres of oil spilled.

The agency said a more precise estimate of the amount lost will be available once site work is complete. It said it does not appear that any waterways were affected.

“The product appeared to be primarily contained in a large ditch between the rail line and Highway 16 to the north of the rail line.”

Reeve Jack Gibney of the Rural Municipality of Usborne, which includes Guernsey, has said there is concern in the agricultural community over the two spills.

He has said that people are also worried about the safety of rail transport for oil and have suggested it’s time to look to pipelines.

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