St. Lazare, Man. – The Transportation Safety Board on March 1 released an update to its investigation into a crude-by-rail derailment and spill in the Assiniboine River valley southeast of St. Lazare, Man., which occurred on Feb. 16.
“On 16 February 2019, at 2:31 am Central Standard Time, a Canadian National (CN) unit train, consisting of 110 tank cars loaded with petroleum crude oil (UN1267, Class 3 PG I), was proceeding eastward at about 49 mph on the CN Rivers Subdivision when it experienced a train-initiated emergency brake application at Mile 198.3 near St-Lazare, Manitoba. The temperature at the time was about −27°C. TSB site examination determined that 37 Class 117R tank cars had derailed near mile 197.0.
“The fifth and sixth cars remained upright and had no visible tank damage or leaks. The remaining 35 derailed cars came to rest piled up in various positions over a distance of approximately 300 to 400 feet. About 16 tank cars sustained breaches and released at least 1,000,000 litres of product, which was mostly contained in a low-lying area adjacent to the track. There was no fire, no injuries and no evacuation. The TSB is investigating,” the update said.
One million litres is equal to 1,000 cubic metres, or 6,290 barrels of oil. That is the equivalent of the full contents of 9 rail cars, if they were loaded to a 700 barrel capacity.
The derailment spilled substantially more than a January 2012 derailment near Oxbow, when 22 cars derailed after a rig worker departing a nearby drilling rig drove his pickup into the side of the train at night. In that instance, two-thirds of one car were spilled.
The TSB work on-site at St. Lazare. has been completed. All 35 of the damaged tank cars were examined and 7 of them were selected for a more detailed examination to be conducted at a later date in order to evaluate tank car performance. The TSB has also recovered select track components and wheel sets of interest, which are being forwarded to its engineering laboratory in Ottawa for detailed failure analysis.
CN resumed operations on the mainline the following day.