No timeline for residents to return
STONY PLAIN, Alta.—Residents of an tiny Alberta community near the site of a train derailment remained out of their homes for a third day yesterday as CN Rail struggled to get the upper hand on a fire that was threatening the area.
Staff monitoring the derailment near Gainford carried out another controlled burn yesterday evening to get rid of any remaining propane in pressurized tank cars that left the track over the weekend.
CN had hoped to have people home after a first controlled burn Sunday night.
“Unfortunately, when we went to inspect the cars . . . we found that not all the cars had vented their propane,” said CN spokesman Warren Chandler.
“We hoped for an early return but in the interests of safety, we can’t do that yet.”
The controlled burn procedure involves placing small explosives on the hulls of the derailed propane tank cars, then detonating them to punch small holes in the pressurized car shells.
The gas vapour ignites as it escapes and is supposed to burn off in a controlled manner.
Gainford residents have been out of their homes since early Saturday morning when 13 cars on a freight train went off the rails about 80 km west of Edmonton.
Two explosions were reported, so people were ordered from their homes as a precaution.
No one was injured.
Three of the rail cars were carrying liquefied petroleum gas, commonly known as propane, and caught fire. Four others were carrying crude and didn’t break open.
CN said those units have been removed from the scene.
Parkland County spokeswoman Jackie Ostashek said some impatient residents have begun taking matters into their own hands.
“There have been some concerns about people trying to breach the roadblocks,” she noted.
“We’re trying to ensure that people understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it.”
Emergency crews have escorted a few people back to their property, Ostashek said.
“Where it was safe to do so, we did have fire crews assist people to go back,” she remarked. “They took them there only after the determination that they were outside the immediate threat area.
“It is not something we are encouraging doing and only in exceptional circumstances.”
“Certainly there’s people that are frustrated,” echoed Mayor Ray Shaigec.
“[But] every measure is taken to ensure this is going to be addressed as quickly as possible with the focus on safety.”