Crews still cleaning train wreck site

Crews are still working around the clock to contain and remove about 2,500 gallons of diesel fuel dumped in to Rainy Lake after Wednesday night’s Rocky Inlet train accident.
Yesterday morning a boom line was set out a few metres from shore to contain the spill on the surface of the lake and later, more lines were put in place to contain fuel which got beyond the first barrier.
“The cleanup continues–we put a boom in place yesterday afternoon and it is 1,400 feet long and 100 to 200 feet off shore at it’s greatest range,” said Jim Feeny, director of public affairs for CN Rail.
“Yesterday they took boats and pushed the boom towards shore, and the diesel is still being pumped out,” he added.
Inside the boom, the water is an obvious yellow colour because of the diesel, some of which can be seen around surrounding islands and shorelines.
“I’m told there’s a very light sheen outside the main area around some of the beaches and islands,” said Feeny. “We’re sending people with boats to those areas and placing absorbent pads on the water.”
The train was a working train with two locomotives carrying 50 cars, including 42 cars of stone and gravel, to repair damage on the track caused by Tuesday’s torrential rains and high wind.
Heading east, the train’s crew noticed a washout in the track about 20 feet long and two or three feet deep.
They attempted an emergency stop but the train passed over the section of suspended track and the second locomotive to cross the section fell through and the fuel tank was punctured as the rails and ties broke.
Cars of gravel rode up on each other in a pile of mangled metal, wheels and rails.
“There were 17 cars that derailed as the second locomotive fell through,” said Feeny.
Some CN workers worked over 24-hours straight to remove the wreckage and the section of track was repaired by 3 a.m. this morning
Many repairs are still underway along the track which was dotted with washouts, fallen trees and broken hydro poles throughout northwestern Ontario.
“I’ve been told it was the worst storm in a century . . . I hope it was,” noted Feeny.
A brakeman on the train was taken to hospital with a knee injury as a result of the accident and has since been released.
Representatives from the Northwestern Health Unit, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of the Environment are at the scene to monitor and assist with the cleanup.
The environmental impact of the spill is expected to be minimal according to the Ministry of Natural Resources who have a biologist at the scene.
“There’s always impact when you have something like that but I talked to the biologist and he’s expecting the impact will be pretty minimal because it’s on the surface and it’s being removed,” said Linda Wall, the MNR’s Rainy Lake Area Supervisor.
A couple of birds have been taken from the spill and cleaned up and schools of fish can still be seen swimming below the slick.
CN Rail will also be replacing the contaminated gravel along the tracks and building an impermeable barrier along the shoreline to stop any diesel which comes out of the ground from seeping into Rainy Lake.