Consumption advisory still in place three
years after a CN Rail train derailed
August 23, 2008
Source: Sherwood Park News
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The effects of the CN Rail train derailment just over three years ago
are still being felt, as there is still evidence of contamination at
A fish and waterfowl consumption advisory sent out by Alberta Health
Services – Capital Health and Health Canada last week warns that
although no accumulation of oil or chemicals have been found in
waterfowl or fish tested, consumption by humans should still be limited.
The Alberta Sustainable Resource Development – Fish and Wildlife has
restricted fishing at Lake Wabamun to catch and release only, meaning
that no fish caught in the lake is allowed to be kept.
“Our catch and release regulation this year is purely a population
related rule,” said Mike Jenkinson, public affairs spokesperson for Fish
“It has nothing to do with any consumption advisories that Capital
Health has in place.”
He noted that catch and release regulations are very common and
fluctuate with the needs of each individual lake.
Ongoing contaminant monitoring in fish and waterfowl has been conducted
since the derailment happened in 2005, and although there have been no
signs of accumulated oils or chemicals, bird consumption should be
limited to only those that were not contaminated in the original oil
A numbered metal leg band distinguishes a bird that has been
contaminated and rehabilitated from one that has not.
A list can be obtained through Capital Health on which of these numbered
birds is unsafe to consume.
Although use of Lake Wabamun has returned to normal since the spill,
there is still some oil sitting at the bottom of the lake.
Depending on the wind and the temperature, traces of the oil can surface
occasionally in the form of tar balls that wash ashore and oil sheens
that surface the water.
“We’ll continue to monitor (the lake) as long as there are these
manifestations of the oil, but we don’t know how long it will take (to
be contaminant free),” said Dr. Gerry Predy, medical officer for Capital
Some people who have been in contact with the oil while swimming have
developed minor skin rashes and irritation as well as upset stomachs if
that water is swallowed.
“Beyond that we don’t anticipate any chronic effects,” he said.
The oil spill into Lake Wabamun occurred after 43 cars of a CN Rail
train derailed due to a faulty track that had many fractures.
More than 700,000 litres of bunker oil and other chemicals were spilled
into the lake just 50 km west of Edmonton.
CN Rail was charged under Alberta’s Environmental Protection act with
failing to take all reasonable measures to remedy and confine a spill.