Lacombe Mayor Grant Creasey is relieved Friday’s train derailment and spill happened just outside of the city’s boundary instead of beside the downtown.
“It’s the kind of thing we have to be prepared for, but I am thankful it’s not within the city,” said Creasey on Monday.
At approximately 8 p.m. on Friday, a Canadian Pacific Rail train derailed just south of Lacombe near Hwy 2A and Range Road 270A (between Lacombe and Blackfalds). About 22 rail cars derailed, spilling tar oil used for the asphalt-making process, as well as lumber.
Residents of three nearby houses were initially evacuated but are now back home.
About 32,000 litres of tar oil was spilled. No injuries were reported.
The incident remains under investigation, stated Canadian Pacific Railway on Monday.
According to the City of Lacombe, three rail cars had to be unloaded and then taken away, via trailer. Some of the collected spilled material was taken to the landfill.
Creasey does not believe tar oil is especially toxic. Although it’s made of hydrocarbons, it’s too thick to be absorbed by the soil and could harden when exposed to the air, said the mayor.
He hasn’t heard a lot of public concern about this spill, or the potential danger of having a rail line so close to the city’s historic downtown. “I hear more about (train) whistle cessation,” he said, noting some residents are bothered by train whistles at night.
Some rail cars did jump the track at that downtown crossing some years ago, but it was a minor incident that, fortunately, resulted in no injuries or spills, said Creasey.
He noted Lacombe has three east-west crossings so if one had to be closed there would still be other access to the city’s east side.
Little can be done about moving the rail line as this would cost “hundreds of millions,” added Creasey.
After the needed repairs and safety inspections were made, CP reopened the rail line to traffic on Saturday afternoon. Both Creasey and CP thanked local fire officials, police, Alberta Environment and other stakeholders for their support in responding to this incident. They also thanked residents for their patience.