Railways concerns shared by B.C. communities

Sicamous is not alone in its concern over what potentially hazardous goods are passing through the community daily by rail.

Sicamous council learned it’s not alone in its concern over what potentially hazardous goods are passing through the community daily by rail.

At the recent Union of BC Municipalities conference, Coun. Fred Busch attended a workshop on rail safety. He said the main emphasis of the workshop was how railway companies are becoming more strict about trespassing on their respective tracks. However, that wasn’t what was on the minds of most in attendance.

“We were really more interested in the inherent dangers that come from a train wreck, as just happened… in Clair, Sask.,” said Busch, referring to the Oct. 7 incident where 26 CN railcars derailed. Two cars carrying liquid petroleum burst into flames, forcing the immediate evacuation of those who live/work in the vicinity. A length of broken rail is now believed to be the cause.

“This brings to mind the inherent problem we have living here with the CPR,” said Busch, noting in the workshop it was discussed how remediation teams are on the ready for such incidents should they occur in or near large urban centres.

“A train derails between Sicamous and Malakwa, how long will it be before they come to remediate any of those problems?” said Busch.

Another shared issue/concern said Busch, is that rail companies will not release details of what their trains are carrying until a year after the fact.

“We want to know what it is we should be ready for, and we could, perhaps based on what they’ve done in the past, we can have our fire department and first responders try to be ready to do something about some of those spills,” said Busch, adding council must keep pressuring CP to better co-operate with local fire departments and first responders.

“All we have to do is think back… to Lac-Mégantic in Quebec, and the damage it did to that community, and try to realize what it might do to us, or Salmon Arm or Revelstoke,” said Busch, referring to the July 2013 derailment that resulted in the deaths of 42 people. “It seems that all of the communities that are on the rail tracks, the railway goes right through the centre of the community. If we ever had something like Lac-Mégantic, Sicamous would be pretty hard done by.”


Editor’s Note: In the original version of the story Coun. Fred Busch’s name was incorrect. The story has been changed to reflect that.

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