Salmon Arm firefighters and CP Rail staff responded to compressed gas leaking from a rail car carrying argon refrigeration liquid on Saturday, March 19, 2022. (Salmon Arm Fire Department photo)

Salmon Arm firefighters and CP Rail staff responded to compressed gas leaking from a rail car carrying argon refrigeration liquid on Saturday, March 19, 2022. (Salmon Arm Fire Department photo)

Salmon Arm rail crossing temporarily closed due to rail car leaking argon gas

Fire chief said gas non-toxic, non-flammable, but in large concentrations can displace oxygen

The railway crossing at Marine Park Drive and Lakeshore Drive was closed for about two-and-a-half hours on Saturday as firefighters responded to a rail car leaking argon gas.

At 1:45 p.m. on March 19, the Salmon Arm Fire Department responded to a report of a leaking rail car near the crossing. Fire Chief Brad Shirley said responding fire crews confirmed the leak was compressed gas and was coming from a rail car carrying argon refrigerated liquid. Shirley noted the product is non-flammable and non-toxic.

“However, given it can displace oxygen if in large clouds, crews used hose lines to help disperse the gas,” said Shirley. “Fire crews were also able to slow the leak by tightening a valve. Once this occurred, CP uncoupled the car from the train and the fire department was able to clear the scene at 3:40 p.m.”

CP Rail dispatched its hazardous materials team to the scene, and Shirley said CP and the fire department worked extremely well together in mitigating the incident.

According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS), inert gases such as argon do not burn or explode, but can cause injury or death if in high concentrations.

“They can displace enough air to reduce oxygen levels,” says CCOHS. “If oxygen levels are low enough, people entering the area can lose consciousness or die from asphyxiation.”

Read more: CN train derails in North Van near Squamish Nation Eslha7an

Read more: Firefighters in Salmon Arm respond to reports of 2 residential fires, 1 vehicle fire in 1 day


lachlan@saobserver.net
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Salmon Arm firefighters and CP Rail staff responded to compressed gas leaking from a rail car carrying argon refrigeration liquid on Saturday, March 19, 2022. (Salmon Arm Fire Department photo)

Salmon Arm firefighters and CP Rail staff responded to compressed gas leaking from a rail car carrying argon refrigeration liquid on Saturday, March 19, 2022. (Salmon Arm Fire Department photo)