ecoweek.ca Canada's environmental news weekly since 1972
November 15, 2004
Mississauga marks 25th anniversary of major derailment
MISSISSAUGA, ONT-On November 10, Mississauga City Council marked the 25th anniversary of the Mississauga Train Derailment with a special presentation in Council. Mississauga Fire Chief Garry Morden addressed the Council and special guests, saluting the thousands of volunteers and organizations who helped to make the "Mississauga Miracle." On the evening of November 10, 1979, a Canadian Pacific train lost one of its wheels, causing the derailment of 24 cars, some of which carried dangerous substances including propane, caustic soda, styrene, fibreglass insulation and chlorine. These flammable liquids and vapours caused a massive explosion which could be seen more than 100 kilometres away. Evacuations, which began two hours after the explosion, forced 218,000 residents to leave their homes. It was almost a week before many could return, and this remains the largest peacetime evacuation in North American history. Although the fallout from the derailment was substantial - displaced people, closed highways, massive traffic jams, abandoned animals - there were no lost lives or serious injuries. What could have been a disaster of enormous proportions became the "Mississauga Miracle." Fire Chief Garry Morden told the Council, "the derailment put Mississauga on the map because it instigated legislative change for the transportation of dangerous goods, providing the world with a shining example of efficient emergency planning."