By Solarina Ho
TORONTO Jan 10 A fire on a crude oil tanker on
a Canadian National Railway Co train that derailed this
week in New Brunswick was extinguished by Friday afternoon and
CN said blazes on cars carrying liquid petroleum gas (LPG) would
be put out shortly.
The CN train had been burning for a fourth day as crews
worked to remove the last derailed freight cars adjacent to the
fires. A total of 19 cars and one locomotive on the 122-car,
four-locomotive train went off the rails on Tuesday evening near
the village of Plaster Rock.
Almost half the derailed cars carried crude or LPG.
The accident happened a week after the fiery crash of a
crude oil train in North Dakota. The incidents were the latest
in a series of high-profile derailments involving dangerous
goods in the past year. The incidents have put Canadian and U.S.
regulators under intense pressure to toughen industry rules.
Transport Canada announced a proposal on Friday that will
turn previously voluntary standards for tank car construction
into enforceable regulations.
CN spokesman Jim Feeny said crude oil had leaked from the
derailed train, but that the leak has been contained and the
crude is being removed. Officials were still investigating the
nature of the damage to all the train's tank cars and the volume
of product affected.
Feeny said crews have removed tank and freight cars that
were close to the LPG fires and have instigated a controlled
burn on three LPG cars.
"That is the safest and most effective way to bring this to
a conclusion quickly and safely," Feeny said from the site of
the derailment. "A lot of progress has been made."
It was still too early to say when the CN mainline would be
reopen for traffic, he added.
Calls for tougher regulatory measures for oil-by-rail in the
United States and Canada intensified after a runaway train
disaster last summer in Quebec in which 47 people were killed. A
rise in shale oil production has spurred a huge boom across the
continent in shipping crude via rail.
Recent derailments have often involved older-model tank cars
that are used for transporting crude oil. Regulators have deemed
these older tankers faulty and vulnerable to being punctured.
It is unclear whether the crude tanker that was on fire in
New Brunswick was an older DOT-111 model or a newer model that
complies with stricter voluntary standards for tankers adopted
in October 2011.
"The older DOT-111 tank cars comply with current regulatory
requirements, so CN, under its common carrier obligations, is
obliged to transport them," CN spokesman Mark Hallman said in an
email, but he reiterated CN's support for regulatory proposals
to improve tank car safety.
Transport Canada said its proposed regulation would require
new DOT-111 tankers to be built with thicker steel, a top
fitting and a head shield protection. The industry is already
building new tankers to this standard.
Canadian Transport Minister Lisa Raitt has said she is
working with U.S. regulators and the industry to see what
additional measures are needed. Her department said on Friday
these could include retrofitting, repurposing or retiring older
Earlier this week, several U.S. lawmakers urged swift
measures from Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who in turn
promised that tougher federal standards for tank cars would come
"in weeks, not months," according to North Dakota Republican
Senator John Hoeven.
CN's Hallman said that tank car owners - generally shippers
and rolling-stock leasing companies - should pay for costs of
retrofitting tankers. Energy groups are opposed to the tanker
proposals because they say the cost of retrofitting roughly
80,000 cars could be prohibitive.
Transport Canada's new regulatory proposal also requires
more stringent requirements on documentation for the
transportation of dangerous goods.