City council wants some answers from CN Rail about the train collision and derailment which sparked a massive gasoline fire Aug. 4.
On Monday council sent a letter to CN senior vice-president, Western region Jim Vena requesting a meeting with senior company officials to discuss, “the immediate measures CN proposes to mitigate the potential for future events of this nature, and to address risks that hazardous cargo may pose for our community and its citizens.”
“They’ve said it was human error. Human error can happen at any time. How [is CN] going to reduce that human error?” Mayor Colin Kinsley said. “I think it’s incumbent on them … that they explain to us exactly what they’re going to do to ensure that everything humanly possible is being done to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
The collision happened at about 10:30 a.m. on Aug. 4 when a northbound train hit a southbound train side-on at the CN switching yard next to the Fraser River across from Paddlewheel Park.
A locomotive, lumber car and two gasoline tankers caught fire following the collision, creating a massive pillar of smoke seen throughout the city.
The Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation on how the trains on different tracks collided.
No one was injured in the crash and subsequent fire.
CN Rail spokeswoman Kelli Svendsen said an internal investigation has shown an experienced manager was piloting the train at the time.
“Apparently it was a senior person who ignored the rules,” Kinsley said. “Because this one happened we want to know what else could be done whether that’s more training or different training.”
Kinsley said he isn’t concerned about the additional rail activity brought by the opening of the Fairview Container Terminal in Prince Rupert in October, and CN’s intermodal container facility in Prince George.
“The majority of containers are loaded with packed goods. Dangerous goods are generally transported in special cars,” Kinsley said.
However, dangerous goods are transported along the line, Kinsley said. Prince George got lucky the gasoline tankers stayed upright and weren’t loaded with more dangerous goods.
“We want them to tell us they’re taking every possible precaution that our city is safe.”
Kinsley also praised local emergency responders for handling the disaster efficiently and professionally.
“It would seem that it was an exercise that went extremely well,” Kinsley said. “The only thing would be better control of onlookers.”
At the next regular meeting of council, councillor Brian Skakun will be seeking to have city administration prepare a report on the incident to see what can be learned from the response effort.
The last derailed cars and debris were cleared from the accident scene on Sunday.