Management error blamed for CN derailment
Source: Globe & Maill - IAN BAILEY
August 7, 2007
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CN investigation finds 'experienced manager' at fault in collision of
two trains in Prince George
VANCOUVER -- Canadian National Railway Co. has concluded that "an
experienced manager" with the company was to blame for a weekend
derailment that sent one train into a collision with another in Prince
George in an incident that has raised new questions about the B.C.
safety record of Canada's largest railway operation.
CN's conclusion, announced yesterday, came as the company was at odds
with B.C.'s Environment Minister over whether CN complied with
provincial regulations that compel the timely notification of provincial
authorities when a chemical spill occurs.
Kelli Svendsen, a CN spokeswoman, said a CN investigation has found that
"employee error" was to blame for Saturday's accident, which sparked a
No one was injured.
Fuel from the crash entered the Fraser River, raising fears of
environmental damage, though B.C. Environment Minister Barry Penner said
yesterday none had been detected.
"The employee involved was an experienced manager who has also worked in
a unionized position doing exactly this kind of train handling," Ms.
She declined to identify the employee, the errors or discuss any
"There are procedures employees are required to follow when operating
trains. If these procedures are not followed, there are consequences."
Mr. Penner said yesterday his ministry will be looking into whether CN
moved quickly enough to notify the provincial emergency program of the
spill after the crash.
"Preliminary indications are CN did not notify us as quickly as I would
think would be appropriate," Mr. Penner said in an interview.
He declined to specify his concerns, but said they were significant
enough to warrant attention.
"We're going to be investigating to see if, in fact, [timely
notification] occurred in this case. I am not going to conclude they
didn't call as soon as possible or as indicated by the regulation, but
there has been some suggestion they did not call as quickly as they
Ms. Svendsen rejected Mr. Penner's concerns. "The minister is mistaken.
The normal processes and procedures were followed," she said.
She said CN notified fire officials and RCMP within five minutes, and
the provincial emergency program was also swiftly called.
Saturday's spill occurred only a day after the company was hit with five
charges - two under the federal Fisheries Act and three under the B.C.
Environmental Management Act - over a 2005 derailment near Squamish that
sent 40,000 litres of caustic soda, also known as sodium hydroxide, into
the Cheakamus River, killing an estimated 500,000 fish.
A report by the federal Transportation Safety Board said CN made a
number of mistakes that caused the crash.