Unknown amount of crude oil spilled in Manitoba train derailment

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Cleanup crews in Manitoba have built a berm to contain an unknown amount of oil spilled from rail cars around the area where a Canadian National (CN) train derailed on February 16, 2019. 

The crews, working in the rural municipality of Ellice-Archie, pumped oil out of the intact rail cars, while vacuum trucks collected crude from the land around the tracks where 37 of the train’s 110 cars derailed.

In a statement from CN to the municipality, CN said that frigid temperatures would thicken the oil, making the cleanup take longer. 

“Finally, CN environmental teams will complete the cleanup of the spilled oil and impacted soils by mixing it with woodchips and excavating it from the site,” the statement continued. 

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CN said it will backfill the affected areas once the snow melts in the spring. 

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada has deployed a team of investigators to the derailment site to assess the situation. As of this week, investigators told media that the train was rolling east at 79 km/h when it experienced a “train-initiated emergency brake application.” 

The board also noted that the train consisted of Class 117R cars, an upgraded version of the model that gained notoriety in the 2013 fatal explosion and fire in Lac Megantic, Quebec. The board said it intends to evaluate how well the new tanker model contained the oil in the latest incident. 

While CN is still unclear about how much oil was spilled, it told local media that none of the oil has entered the Assiniboine River. 

“The amount of product recovered from each car will be recorded and compared to the amount of product shipped in each car to estimate the amount of product released during the accident,” TSB of Canada said in a statement. 

Thirty-five of the derailed cars that came to rest “piled up in various positions over a distance of approximately 300 to 400 feet,” added the TSB of Canada. 

There was no fire or injuries as a result of the derailment.

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