March 19, 2008 / 1:23 AM / in 10 years

Ottawa lays charges against CN Rail for oil spill

VANCOUVER, British Columbia (Reuters) - Ottawa has laid three charges against Canadian National Railway Co over a 2005 oil spill into a lake near Edmonton, Alberta, the federal government said on Tuesday.

Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada said they have charged CN, Canada’s biggest railway, with one count of allegedly depositing a substance harmful to migratory birds into Wabamun Lake, and two counts for the alleged disruption or destruction of a fish habitat.

The charges stem from an investigation into the derailment of a CN train at the popular fishing and boating destination west of Edmonton on August 3, 2005, and the release of hundreds of thousands of liters of fuel oil into the water.

A railway spokesman said CN would not comment on the specifics of the case because it was before the courts, but the company believes it has lived up to its commitments regarding clean-up and offering compensation to residents.

A first court appearance has been set for Wednesday in Edmonton’s provincial court.

CN was also charged last year by federal and British Columbia provincial environmental officials in connection with a 2005 derailment that spilled caustic soda into the scenic Cheakamus River north of Vancouver.

Reporting by Allan Dowd, Nicole Mordant; Editing by Rob Wilson

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