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Updated: Train derailment dumps coal near Salmon Arm

Investigators are attempting to determine the cause of a train derailment that occurred Monday morning in Canoe.

CP Rail spokesperson Kevin Hrysak said the derailment occurred April 30 at 5:30 a.m. near the 50th Street railway crossing. Ten cars of the 124-car westbound coal train went off the tracks, dumping their load on the lake side of CP's right of way.

Hrysak noted there were no injuries, no environmental concerns, and there is no risk to the surrounding community. Salmon Arm Fire Chief Brad Shirley said Monday that representatives from the Ministry of Environment were still expected to investigate because the train knocked over a fire hydrant,and water from it flowed into the lake.

"There's a possibility that some coal went in there as well, and we're just awaiting Ministry of Environment attendance to assess that," said Shirley.

City of Salmon Arm staff shut down water to the hydrant around 6 a.m. This left residents on the north side of the tracks, along the foreshore, without water until the scene was cleaned up later that day.

Fire crews from Salmon Arm and Canoe remained onsite throughout the morning to monitor the situation, as the derailment also impacted a hydro line, temporarily knocking out power, and also broke open a natural gas meter.

"We're standing by, confirming that the hydro has been taken care of and the gas has been taken care of, and now they're going to upright the train car here fairly soon, and again, we just want to make sure, if something sparks or something, we're here in attendance," said Shirley.

Among places affected by the power outage was the city's water treatment plant.

Rob Niewenhuizen, the city's director of engineering and public works, said staff were initially quite concerned about how long the outage would last, so a notification was issued asking residents to conserve water. However, the power was restored by 9 a.m., causing no problems with water treatment.

People living in foreshore cabins north of the tracks on 75th were without water for the longest, Niewenhuizen said, because water was shut off to the hydrant that was sheared off by the derailment.

Sewage treatment was also unaffected. Three lift stations pumping sewage in the vicinity of the derailment were set up with generators, while two vacuum trucks were used to suck up sewage and deposit it in the lines closer to the downtown sewage treatment plant.

Hrysak said CP's first responders and operational personnel were onsite as well, assessing the situation while assuring all necessary precautions are taken before cleanup commences.

"We're co-operating with all of the agencies involved," said Hrysak. "The cause of the incident has yet to be determined, but safety is our top priority so we will be conducting a full investigation into not only the cause, but what led it as well."

Hrysak couldn't say when the investigation would be completed.

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