Thursday, August 23, 2007

CN mends its fences in Prince George

CN Rail has come up with a new way of doing things in the Prince George region and because of that Transport Canada has lifted the Derailment Orders stemming from the incident in the city earlier this month.

The Opinion 250 website has two stories posted on the trials and tribulations of the rail industry in the Central Interior, inluding the word from Transport Canada that CN is in compliance and can get on with its business again.

"We have reviewed CN’s new operational procedures, and we are satisfied the issues have been addressed so the orders have been rescinded."

That development was followed by CN providing the province with its clean up plan for the derailment site, a project that the provincial government had ordered to be provided with by Friday.

CN is set to begin the clean up of the derailment site on Monday, it's unknown how long the clean up and remediation work will take.

Next up for the rail road will be a bit of community relations with the City and people of Prince George, who are still waiting for details as to what happened in their hometown at the start of the month and how the lines of communicaition and safety can be improved in the future.

P.G. Derailment Orders Lifted
250 News
Thursday, August 23, 2007 03:58 AM

Transport Canada has rescinded the 5 orders issued to CN following the collision and derailment in Prince George on August 4th.

Transport Canada spokesperson Rod Nelson says the railway has implemented new operating procedures and CN can once again resume moving longer trains and reinstate the “point of protection zone”.

“We have reviewed CN’s new operational procedures, and we are satisfied the issues have been addressed so the orders have been rescinded.”

The five orders issued were as follows:

1. Train movement will not be protected by the “point protection” zone, and any existing instructions related to the “point protection” zone ( P.P.Zone) are null and void. (The inspectors believe this zone, which was to control train traffic, gave operators a false sense of security that there was only one train in the zone at any given time.)

2. An employee must physically be on a leading end of equipment to view the track at all times to avoid possible conflicts when switching. (Opinion250 has been told the trains were being operated by "remote control")

3. The maximum cars to be handled is 30 loads, or 40 cars, but if 40, at least 10 have to be empty. (CN has confirmed there were3 locomotives and 53 cars on the northbound train, while the southbound train had two locomotives and 67 cars)

4. There has to be a sufficient number of cars with operating air brakes to control movement

5. All data related to the braking performance, inspection, repairs and yard engines assigned to switching duties, must be retained for 30 days.

CN spokesperson Kelly Svendsen confirms the orders have been rescinded, but will not release the details of the new operational procedures.

Transport Canada cannot release the details of the operational procedure changes, saying only that the railway has outlined a new training program, and a system that will ensure there is “adequate” braking power. Opinion 250 has been advised that if it wants the full details, a request for “Access to Information” will have to be filed.

Meantime, the Ministry of the Environment is still waiting for the delivery of CN’s site clean up plan. The railway has until Friday to submit the plan outlining how it will prevent diesel and gasoline contaminated soil from entering the Fraser river.

CN Delivers Clean Up Plan
250 News
Thursday, August 23, 2007 11:59 AM

CN has deleivered its environmental clean up plan to the Ministry of the Environment and is expected to start work on that plan at the crash and derailment site in Prince George, Monday.

(photo at right shows burning material on the bank and in the Fraser River, shortly after the crash and derailment August 4th in Prince George, photo submitted by Opinion250 reader)
Sean Sharpe, Ministry of Environment Regional Manager Omineca – Peace Region says the railway delivered its clean up plan late yesterday, two days within the time limit set out in an order issued last Friday. “The plan addresses all the concerns we had pointed out” says Sharpe.

Morrow Environmental will be carrying out the work for CN.

Sharpe says the immediate work will involve the excavation and removal of soils from the crash site on the east side of the Fraser River, then holes will be drilled to see how deep the contamination from diesel and gasoline seeped . There will be continual monitoring and boom inspection to keep pollutants from making it to the river.

Sharpe says while CN had indicated it intended to do this work, the orders were delivered to speed up the process “We don’t know if the contaminants have made it into the ground water, so I wanted a tighter time table to reduce the potential of that happening. We also don’t know if the contaminants have migrated past the site, so test holes will be drilled to see how deep and how wide it went.”

Sharpe says the plan also includes clauses that assure information will be delivered in a timely fashion. “I expect that will mean if there are changes in containment, problems with the boom, or information indicating the contamination has spread, I would get that information immediately.” Sharpe says there will be a lot of material sent to laboratories and that will create a flurry of analysis. “I do expect to receive those reports within a reasonable time.”

How long will it take to complete the clean up work? Sharpe says that won’t be known until all the tests have been completed to identify the width and depth of the spill of diesel and gasoline.
It is getting too late in the season for CN to carry out the replanting part of the repairs to the bank as would be required by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Sharpe says it is likely CN will only be able to stabilize the bank this fall to prevent further erosion. The replanting program to restore the riparian habitat won’t likely happen until next spring.

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