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PoCo councillor wants more CP Railway info

An investigator checks out two of the three rail cars that tipped over Saturday on the CN tracks just west of Cariboo Road in Burnaby, spilling their load of metallurgical coal into nearby Silver Creek. Seven cars were involved in the derailment, which may have been caused by erosion of the rail bed by heavy rain Friday night and Saturday morning. - MARIO BARTEL PHOTO/BLACK PRESS
An investigator checks out two of the three rail cars that tipped over Saturday on the CN tracks just west of Cariboo Road in Burnaby, spilling their load of metallurgical coal into nearby Silver Creek. Seven cars were involved in the derailment, which may have been caused by erosion of the rail bed by heavy rain Friday night and Saturday morning.
— image credit: MARIO BARTEL PHOTO/BLACK PRESS

The city of Port Coquitlam and the public need more information about the types of chemicals and material being moved through the Canadian Pacific Railway yard, according to Coun. Glenn Pollock.

Given the recent spate of high-profile derailments — including one in Burnaby on Saturday — Pollock told The Tri-City News that he has some public safety concerns.

"They are self-regulating to a large degree," he said. "There have been so many derailments lately that I just think we need to know exactly what is there."

Given the age of the railway infrastructure, Pollock also had questions about CP's maintenance practices. He pointed to a CN freight train derailment in New Brunswick last week that was being blamed on cracked wheel or axle that caused the evacuation of 150 people.

PoCo Fire Chief Nick Delmonico said the department's relationship with CP has been improving over the last year and a half. Firefighters have been brought up to speed with the rail yard's safety protocols and said a mock disaster drill was conducted last month. There are also plans this year to conduct a drill on the CP property, he added.

The department does receive some information about the types of substances moving through the rail yard. Delmonico said liquid petroleum products are common and the most concerning from a firefighting perspective.

"Anything hugely flammable is obviously a concern," he said.

But changes to federal legislation that were recently passed in Ottawa could mean that the fire department is updated on a routine basis about the types of chemicals being shipped through the yard.

Delmonico said the department is still going over the legislation and will be presenting some of the findings to council next week.

Saturday, seven train cars came off the tracks on the south side of the rail bed west of Cariboo Road in Burnaby. Three of the cars dumped their load of coal, with some of the material spilling into Silver Creek, which feeds into Burnaby Lake.

Officials from the environment ministry and Burnaby's Environmental Health department, as well as CN's own environmental crews, responded to the scene to assess the damage to the protected fish-bearing stream.

The Canadian National Railway Company blamed the incident on heavy rainfall that caused a beaver dam to be washed away, affecting the integrity of the rail bed beneath the track.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan said the incident could have been a lot worse.

"Imagine if it was some other substance," he said. "They're carrying substances that are toxic, they're carrying substances that are dangerous. We don't even know if these kinds of substances are moving through our city."

gmckenna@tricitynews.com

– with files from Mario Bartel

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