Train carrying oil, liquid petroleum gas derails in Alberta

Sat Oct 19, 2013 4:08pm EDT
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By Nia Williams and Solarina Ho

CALGARY (Reuters) - A train carrying crude oil and liquefied petroleum gas derailed west of Edmonton, Alberta, on Saturday, causing an explosion and fire but no injuries, Canadian National Railway said on Saturday.

One rail car carrying liquefied petroleum gas on the westbound train exploded and three others also caught fire. Emergency crews battled the flames and worked to prevent the burning cars from triggering more explosions, a municipal authority spokesman said.

Residents were evacuated from Gainford, Alberta, 85 km (53 miles) from the provincial capital Edmonton, after the accident, which highlighted concerns in Canada about moving oil by rail. The community, part of the municipality of Parkland County, has a population of just over 100 people.

"We have cars on fire right now and there was an explosion earlier this morning. The major priority right now for our guys out in the field is containing these fires," said Parkland County spokesman Carson Mills.

It is the third Canadian National Railway derailment in recent weeks and is likely to fan opposition to the crude-by-rail boom taking place in Canada as the country's oil producers seek alternatives to congested pipelines.

Rail safety has become a central issue in Canada since the incident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in July, when a runaway train carrying crude products exploded in the center of the town, killing 47 people.

CN Rail said 13 cars had derailed in the accident in Alberta, which happened at around 1 a.m. There were no injuries, but local authorities evacuated the area as a precaution, CN spokesman Louis-Antoine Paquin said in an email.

Nine of the derailed cars were carrying liquefied petroleum gas and four carried crude. The crude oil cars were intact and kept away from the fires with no indications of any leaks.   Continued...

A train derailment in Gainford, Alberta is seen in this aerial photo courtesy of the RCMP and Parkland County, October 19, 2013. REUTERS/RCMP and Parkland County/Handout