September 19, 2005

CN, Fisheries & Oceans collaborate on salmon restoration following derailment, spill

VANCOUVER, BC-Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) and CN have agreed to work together on efforts to restore salmon stocks in the Cheakamus River that were damaged when a recent train derailment spilled caustic soda (sodium hydroxide, a compound harmful to aquatic life) into the river. CN has agreed to contribute funds for additional enhancement of Cheakamus River chinook and pink salmon stocks. DFO staff will immediately begin increasing the number of salmon eggs normally collected from returning adult salmon in late summer and incubated in a hatchery to boost salmon survival rates. The department is also assessing the work required to conserve the river's coho salmon. It is expected that DFO and CN will continue co-operative efforts to minimize the impacts of the spill on future years' salmon returns. The August 5 derailment of a CN freight train, about 30 km north of Squamish, sent a number of rail cars into the Cheakamus River canyon, including the one containing caustic soda. The Cheakamus, popular for sport fishing, supports several types of salmon as well as other fish species. It flows into the Squamish River and then Howe Sound, which are currently closed to fishing to conserve the surviving salmon stocks. Following the spill, a steering committee and technical advisory committee were formed to assess the environmental impact and assist in the river's recovery. Members include CN, Squamish First Nation, the BC Ministry of Environment, Environment Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the District of Squamish.

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