Everyone said it could happen…it was just a matter of when.
This is the second time in my lifetime I’ve witnessed a railway accident in Pefferlaw. Fortunately this one did not result in the loss of two lives as the first one did on March 19, 1968.
For those of us who live in Pefferlaw, we live with the risk of another rail disaster everyday.
The best we can hope for is that CN is willing to reduce that risk to a minimum. We all know it can never be reduced to zero but there are some things this mega conglomerate should be able to do to allow us to breathe a little easier.
First, they can get rid of that propane tank that is sitting just a few feet away from the tracks. It is there to heat the switches for the tracks to ensure they don’t freeze, but I’m sure with today’s technology, there is a safer way—natural gas maybe.
Pefferlaw was lucky this time. The chances that the 14 derailed cars could have been carrying crude oil or some other hazardous material were huge. Some of the cars on that train were carrying propane and diesel products, and the fact that the 14 cars weren’t, could be classed as a miracle.
Let’s not forget that the tracks in Pefferlaw are only a few metres away from a built up commercial and residential area and they also cross the Pefferlaw River on a trestle less than a kilometre away from town. Somewhat of a perfect storm scenario, wouldn’t you say?
While the actual cause of the recent derailment is still under investigation—some are theorizing ice build up on the tracks or a faulty rail—residents are clearly concerned about the “next time” and the speeds some trains travel through town.
The regulated speed of a train travelling through a populated area is supposed to be 64 km per hour (40 miles per hour) as per a Transport Canada directive.
But I don’t think I would be the only one to suggest that some of the trains running through Pefferlaw appear to be travelling above that limit.
Certainly CN’s modus operandi is to make money. And the fact that they got the tracks cleared of the debris and were able to repair the tracks within one day so train transport could resume is a testament to where their priorities lie.
CN really needs to look at its community outreach policies. The guy they sent out to manage community relations the day of the derailment admitted he didn’t know anything about copper concentrates outside of the fact that it was “non-dangerous”. Although a simple Google search brings that statement into question, I don’t believe the spill posed a human health or environmental risk since it was contained and cleaned up rather quickly. But the promises to get me the information I needed to share with my readers never transpired. I’m still chasing them.
Ultimately CN needs to do a better job of communicating with the public. After all, it is our health, our homes and our community and we deserve transparency and honesty so we can evaluate the true safety risk and decide whether or not we are willing to take it. Karen Wolfe. Editor.