A freight train killed the three men on board when it derailed near Field, B.C., early Feb. 4. (The Canadian Press)

Time to rethink transport of dangerous goods

Shuswap Outdoors by Hank Shelley

We were fishing for sockeye salmon at place called Big Horn down past Spences Bridge last fall.

The river, ironically was named after explorer David Thompson by Simon Fraser—but Thompson had never seen the river.

Suddenly, with a screech of brakes – banging and clanging, a very long CP freight train across the river and heading toward Lytton pulled to a stop.

Slowly the train inched forward, until all three engines, and 122 cars cleared that spot.

Shortly after, two large repair rigs show up to grind, rip and repair a possibly split rail.

Last week’s derailment near Field of 66 cars carrying grain of a 112-car freight train with three locomotives caused the deaths of the train crew. This shows how vulnerable running trains in winter conditions can be.

Are the trains too long, with increased tonnage? Will there be more derailments? A month earlier, there was another wreck close to the Field incident.

Related: B.C. train that derailed and killed three ‘just started moving on its own’

Related: Column: Healthy hunting and our four-legged friends

Although there have been major upgrades to ballast and rails and bearings on wheels with the company, I’m sure some trains are a mile long, putting tremendous pressure on more than 13 bridges, including Stoney Creek, a steel arch structure widened in 1929, and the highest on the CP line, past the east boundary of Glacier National Park.

Tonnage on CP rails has increased seven per cent, with a proposal to upgrade/expand terminals on the Coast, meaning more rail traffic, including tanker cars moving Alberta crude to market.

Many times we see increased volume of trains passing through Salmon Arm with oil/bitumen as cargo.

Looking back a few years, I recall flagging down a CP freight near Taft. A bearing on a car loaded with sulphur was on fire. The heat detector at Kay Fall, (Enchanted Forest area) failed.

I have also witnessed a split rail on the 19 Mile overhead bridge one night while trying to apprehend salmon poachers; locomotive plunging off the rails at Mara crossing, rupturing fuel tanks – a highways sanding crew had left frozen sand on the rails, causing the locomotive to tip over across from the Mara Community Hall.

As for the Field derailment, very fortunately, it was the locomotive and grain cars, not oil tanker cars that entered the Kicking Horse River, a beautiful, rugged river that flows into the Columbia near Golden.

Despite the hullabaloo about a pipeline, just maybe it’s time we though about getting it done. After all we own it.

It’s safer in the ground than the environmental disaster to water, air and wildlife of not only the Kicking Horse River, but along the shores of our beautiful Shuswap lakes that many trains pass by.


@SalmonArm
barb.brouwer@saobserver.net

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Salmon Arm council to terminate contract for Visitor Information Centre

Chamber to close centre doors at end of August after 25 years, city to welcome digital proposals

Shuswap cabin owner hopes to improve B.C.-Alberta relations

Alberta resident redrafts response to CSRD request to stay home

Single-lane traffic on Highway 1 in Salmon Arm due to aging watermain

City says goodbye to cast-iron main while moving it off highway, into park

Snapshot: Distanced dancing in Salmon Arm

Friends use picnic shelter at Blackburn Park for safe practice

Okanagan film society screening for scholarships

North Okanagan students pursuing creative arts can apply for $2,000 bursaries

Body of missing woman found in Kelowna

Kelly Joy Zuchotzki was last seen on May 24

‘Paralyzed by fear’: B.C. woman details anxiety, grief at Italian relief hospital

Sheila Vicic spent two months in Italy as the country grappled with COVID-19

Dr. Bonnie Henry given new name in B.C. First Nation ceremony: ‘one who is calm among us’

The provincial health officer was honoured in a May 22 ceremony at elementary school in Hazelton

Almost half of shops in North Okanagan mall reopened

Reduced food court capacity, curb-side pickup program en route

CAMH survey looks at binge-drinking, financial anxiety during COVID

Alcohol may be used as a coping mechanism for those whose careers may have been sidelined due to the pandemic

Half of Canadians say governments are hiding something about COVID-19: poll

More than a third of people believe the virus was created in a lab

Morning Start: Why is it so dangerous to wake a sleepwalker?

Your morning start for Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Reports of early morning gunshots rattle downtown Penticton

Three to four gunshot like sounds were reported by residents

Most Read