Crews still cleaning site of CN diesel spill

Canadian National Railway crews and the Ministry of the Environment are still cleaning at the scene where about 2,500 gallons of diesel spilled onto the banks of Rainy Lake after a train derailed just west of Windy Point last Wednesday.
“They’d made very good progress on the water. Essentially [Tuesday], they’d finished cleaning up the diesel in the water,” said Jim Feeny, the director of public affairs for CN.
“There were still some absorbent pads in the water, but they’d moved on to the shoreline to clean up the shoreline pools and to cut down the contaminated vegetation,” he added.
“But monitoring will continue for some time after,” Feeny stressed.
The diesel spilled into the water and along the shoreline when two CN locomotives pulling 50 cars–including 42 cars of gravel and stone to repair tracks after last week’s heavy rains–passed over a washed-out section of track around 9 p.m. last Wednesday.
The second engine crashed through the track and the fuel tank was pierced while 17 of the cars derailed and piled up in a mess of mangled metal, gravel, and ties.
That night, a boom line was put out in the water to contain a visible slick of the diesel as it crept out into the lake.
Other boom lines were stretched out beyond the first one throughout the next two days, with lines reaching 1,400 feet in length and stretching 100-200 meters off shore at the greatest range.
Contractors were brought in to pump out the diesel, which floats at the surface of the water.
With Northwestern Health Unit inspectors and the Ministry of Natural Resources also inspecting the spill, crews have been working every day since last Thursday to pump diesel out of the affected area.
Absorbent pads also were placed near surrounding islands and shorelines where the diesel had visibly reached.
CN environmental engineers were scheduled to arrive at the scene this morning to begin removing contaminated ties and excavating the diesel-soaked soil and gravel in the area.
CN crews also worked around the clock after the accident to remove the wreckage and repair the track, with some employees working more than 24 hours straight.
The track was re-opened there by 3 a.m. on Friday.
The train’s crew had spotted the washout and tried an emergency stop but they were unable to avoid passing over the suspended section of track.