CN Rail says still cleaning up Northern Ontario derailment

Tue Feb 17, 2015 5:10pm EST
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CALGARY, Alberta (Reuters) - Canadian National Railway Co CNR.TO is still cleaning up spilled oil and removing damaged rail cars after a weekend derailment on its line at a remote site about 80 kilometers (50 miles) south of Timmins, Ontario.

Patrick Waldron, a spokesman for the country's largest railway, said in an email that crews, working in -31C (-24F) weather, are allowing a controlled fire at the site to continue to burn. Crude spilled during the incident has been contained on the site. He did not say when the line, which runs between Montreal and Winnipeg, Manitoba, would return to service.

"Today crews are working to remove the final few derailed cars from the right of way and proceed with repairs to the track," Waldron said. "Due to the bitter cold conditions and isolated location, safety and firefighting experts have allowed the remaining controlled fire at the core of the derailment to burn."

The company said 29 of 100 cars on the train heading from Alberta's tar sands to eastern Ontario derailed late on Saturday and seven caught fire. The company said the cars were the CPC 1232 tanker cars, supposed to be a safer model than the older DOT-111 crude tankers that derailed and burned in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, in July, 2013, killing 47 people.

A derailment on Monday on a CSX Corp CSX.N rail line in West Virginia that caused 20 cars to catch on fire also involved CPC 1232 tankers rather than the older version that was criticized as prone to puncture.

The cause of the northern Ontario derailment remains under investigation by Canada's Transportation Safety Board.

(Reporting by Scott Haggett; Editing by Bernard Orr)