Train carrying oil derails, catches fire in New Brunswick, Canada

Wed Jan 8, 2014 12:19am EST

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(Reuters) - A Canadian National Railway train carrying propane and crude oil derailed and caught fire on Tuesday in northwest New Brunswick, Canada, the latest in a string of train accidents that have put the surging crude-by-rail business under heavy scrutiny.

No one was injured but about 45 nearby homes were evacuated when the train derailed near the village of Plaster Rock at about 7 p.m. local time (2300 GMT), local officials and the railroad said.

The train originated in Toronto and was headed to Moncton, New Brunswick, which is about 300 km (186 miles) east of the site of the accident, said Jim Feeny, director of public and government affairs at CN.

This latest derailment comes a little more than a week after a train carrying crude oil in the booming oil state of North Dakota derailed and exploded.

A series of disastrous derailments has reignited the push for tougher regulation. A surge in U.S. oil production has drastically increased the number of oil trains moving across the continent as pipelines fail to keep up with growing supply.

In Tuesday's accident, 15 cars and one unmanned locomotive appeared to have derailed, mostly toward the rear of the train, including four loads of propane and four loads of crude oil, said Feeny.

"At this point, we cannot confirm that they're involved in the fire. They are in the fire area. Because of the fire, emergency responders can't approach too closely," he said.

The train had a total of 122 cars and four locomotives.

Feeny could not say what kind of crude oil the train was carrying and declined to say which customers were involved.

Feeney said CN crews have begun arriving and senior executives were also en route.

Fire officials say the cars appear to have been mostly empty except for some propane residue, said Sharon DeWitt, emergency measures coordinator for Plaster Rock.

"They'll in all probability burn themselves out by morning," said DeWitt. "We'll monitor it." She said there is no danger to residents as the wind is blowing away from Plaster Rock, a village of about 1,000 in a mainly wooded area about 50 km (31 miles) from the U.S. border and Maine.

There have been five major accidents in the past year involving a train carrying crude oil. The most devastating occurred in Quebec in July last year, when a runaway train derailed and exploded in the heart of the town of Lac Megantic, killing 47.

Some U.S. politicians have called for a phase-out or retrofit of old tankers that do not meet current safety standards and are prone to puncture.

(Reporting by Solarina Ho and Jeffrey Hodgson in Toronto and Mary Wisniewski in Chicago; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (2)
Just seems a little weird that all of a sudden this is happening. It almost seem like a conspiracy or sabotage.

Jan 08, 2014 1:20am EST  --  Report as abuse
RailroadMike wrote:
The cold weather effects track conditions just as the summer heat. The rail contracts and the rail joints begin to seperate. If the derailments was due to poorly mantained tracks. The wheels on the cars or the cars themselves will caused derailments. A broken knuckle on the end of the car weighing 90 lbs. or a draw bar weigh 300 lbs. can brake and fall to the ground and cause a derailment. The crews also have a part in derailments. If the crew ignore a track order to slow down on a bad stretch of track this can also cause a dereailment. In the late 1970′s. The CNW had 24 derailments in the month of December due to bad weather on the Iowa Division. Love railroading but it’s a dangerous business even with high tech tools.

Jan 08, 2014 1:41pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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