Canadian officials say it will take some time to assess the damage after a coal train derailed in Burnaby, B.C. on Saturday, Jan. 13, spilling coal into a creek that feeds a nearby lake.
Seven cars on a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed Saturday, three of which toppled over and spilled coal into Silver Creek, which runs alongside the railway. The creek is designated as protected habitat by Fisheries and Oceans Canada.
Emily Hamer, a spokeswoman for CN, told The Province newspaper on Sunday that recent heavy rains washed out a nearby beaver dam, releasing enough water to compromise the tracks.
The metallurgical coal, used in steelmaking, was destined for Neptune Bulk Terminals in North Vancouver and was from mines in B.C.'s Kootenay region, said CP Rail spokesman Ed Greenberg.
Federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt assured Canadians Sunday that rail transport of hazardous materials is safe, despite recent instances of derailments and new safety regulations.
"The transportation system is safe," Raitt told Global's The West Block. "We have transported dangerous goods across this country for the last 100 years. But the reality is that the type of dangerous good can change and we want to ensure we're doing everything we can to ensure there's safe travel."
An environmental group, Voters Taking Action on Climate Change, issued a release Sunday critical of CN, The Province reported.
"Given that heavy rain was widely forecast for this weekend, this calls into question how closely CN is monitoring the safety status of rail lines used by heavy and long coal trains," the group said.