Canada rail safety questioned after train derailment diesel leak

TORONTO (Reuters) - A Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd train derailment in Toronto caused a diesel leak near a residential area on Sunday, authorities said.

While a regulation body said there were no injuries, Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters about 1,200 liters (317 gallons) of diesel fuel were leaked.

The incident began with a westbound train striking an eastbound one that was changing tracks early in the morning, said Transportation Safety Board of Canada spokesman Chris Krepski.

He said both trains derailed, with the westbound one, comprising two locomotives, leaking diesel.

The eastbound train carried “small quantities” of dangerous goods in one of its last cars, but there was no leakage, Krepski said.

He said the goods included non-flammable gas under pressure, compressed nitrogen, aerosol containers, wet batteries and alcoholic beverages.

It was not immediately clear when the track will reopen.

Canadian Pacific spokesman Martin Cej confirmed the car contained dangerous goods, but said there were no public safety concerns.

“The incident was a result of human error, so there were no track issues, no signaling issues, no mechanical issues,” he said.

Neither he nor Krepski nor specified the amount of dangerous goods or said what was in the other cars.

Canada’s rail safety measures have come under scrutiny since a July 2013 incident when a runaway train crashed, killing 47 people and destroying buildings in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic. Canadian Pacific had transported the tank cars of oil involved to Montreal before they crashed under another operator.

In March, Toronto city councilors and Mayor John Tory sent a joint letter to Garneau calling for the federal government to improve protection for communities living along commercial rail lines.

Councilor Mike Layton told reporters at the scene of Sunday’s incident that authorities need to examine whether the trains were carrying appropriate cargo and whether all safety measures were taken.

Speaking in Sudbury, Ontario, at a federal cabinet retreat, Garneau said the government already requires train companies to inform municipalities beforehand about their cargo.

“We also have speed restrictions,” he said. “We also put in measures with respect to immobilizing trains when they are unattended.”

He added responders were using “materials to put into the ground” to soak up the diesel.

“There is no concern that it’s gone into a waterway,” he said.

Toronto police said there were no charges involved in the incident.

Reporting by Ethan Lou in Toronto; Editing by Dominic Evans and Sandra Maler