August 7-14, 2006

CP derailment spills 800 tonnes of coal into the Thompson River

LYTTON, BC-Officials from the British Columbia Ministry of Environment as well as the federal departments of Environment, of Fisheries and Oceans and of Indian and Northern Affairs have been monitoring the cleanup of a spill of metallurgical coal into the Thompson River following the derailment of a Canadian Pacific Rail train on July 31. Twenty of the train's 99 cars went off the rails while crossing a rail bridge at Lytton. Twelve fell into the Thompson River, dumping an estimated 800 tonnes of metallurgical coal into the river, which is about 15 metres deep at the bridge. The bridge is just north of the confluence of the Thompson and Fraser rivers. While there is no commercial fishery in the area, there is an upstream recreational fishery, and the BC Ministry is advising those who have caught fish in that area not to eat them until an analysis of samples collected has been completed. Both provincial and federal agencies are working with other concerned parties to monitor the environmental impacts of the incident on fish and wildlife. Immediately following the spill, CN Rail, owner of the rail line, set up an incident command post at its office in Lytton. By August 3, CN had removed the rail cars from the bridge and was working to repair rail ties, track and bridge decking damaged by the derailment. The company is also collaborating with regulatory agencies to develop a plan for removing the fallen cars and spilled coal from the river and on the banks.

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