There was no sulphur spill on train tracks, says PCT GM
Re. “Sulphur. Danger or no danger? Spill or no spill?” (The Tri-City News, Feb. 17).
The answers to the questions presented in your headline are simply No and No.
The sulphur that can be seen between the rails on the track at the particular location identified is residue from empty rail cars after they have been unloaded at PCT. The railcars have drain holes with floating plugs in the bottom of the cars designed to let out water but not product. From time to time, these plugs can allow very minor amounts of sulphur to escape from the car and drip onto the ground. What was seen on the track is an accumulation of minor drops that have built up over a period of time.
This relatively small amount of sulphur does not pose a significant nor acute environmental risk or impact. Sulphur handled at PCT is an abundant, non-metallic element found naturally in the Earth’s crust and is vital to human health and plant life. Sulphur is stable, non-reactive and non-toxic, and is used in various industrial applications as varied as paints, paper products, steel making and pharmaceuticals. The vast majority of sulphur, however, is exported overseas to countries such as India and China, where it is used to make fertilizer products. In some agricultural applications (such as vineyards and other speciality crops), sulphur is applied directly to soil as a nutrient, improving the health and yield of plant crops. It is not regulated as a hazardous substance under federal Transportation of Dangerous Goods Guidelines.
While this is not an immediate environmental situation, there is obvious concern with the visual impact of the sulphur between the tracks. As these rail tracks are owned by CP Rail, we have been in contact with them regarding this issue and are investigating a number of options available to them to remove the sulphur.
Further information can be found on our website, www.pct.ca.
Ken Catton, General Manager, Pacific Coast Terminals, Port Moody