Thursday, 01 March 2018 11:07

Potash train derails west of Swift Current

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Potash train derails west of Swift Current Matthew Liebenberg

The derailment of a potash train west of Swift Current shut down the railway line for less than 24 hours as crews worked overnight to clear and repair the track.


According to CP spokesperson Andy Cummings the CP potash train derailed approximately 12 kilometres west of Swift Current just after 6 p.m. on Feb. 20. Fourteen rail cars as well as the tailing locomotive derailed.
“CP immediately implemented its emergency response protocols and mobilized teams to the site,” he wrote in an e-mail to the Prairie Post. “There is no threat to public safety, no dangerous goods involved, and no injuries.”
The railway line opened the following afternoon while the cleanup work and investigation into the cause of the derailment continued.
R.M. of Swift Current Fire Chief Louis Cherpin said both fire trucks and nine firefighters from the rural municipality's fire department responded to the incident.
“When we got on the scene, we noticed that there was an engine off the track and the track all busted up,” he mentioned. “At that point we weren’t sure if the train was going east or west, because there was an engine there. A few minutes later we realized there is the rest of the train further down the track on the west side, and then we figured out the train was heading west. So it was the back part of the train that broke off.”
The priority for the firefighters was to deal with any fuel leaking from the tailing locomotive.
“Both the tanks were completely filled, 4,500 gallons of fuel, and because of the way the engine was situated, there was fuel leaking out of the cap on the downward side of the locomotive,” he said. “So we dyked it as much as we could and we put Plug N’ Dike on the cap to stop it from leaking.”
The firefighters then formulated a plan the remove the diesel from the fuel tanks of the locomotive. They used slip tanks and various other fuel tanks, and started pumping diesel from the locomotive's higher tank until the leak of fuel stopped.
“There was not much fuel,” he said about the amount that leaked. “I’m guessing 10, 15 gallons of fuel, maybe 20, because we were able to Plug ‘N Dike or plug the cap so it won’t leak so much. So it was a priority to get that fuel cleaned up.”
The R.M. of Swift Current firefighters remained on scene for about six hours to deal with the diesel leak from the locomotive and to monitor the situation for any potential fire hazard as the CP crews from Moose Jaw and Medicine Hat started to work on the site.
Cherpin commended everyone on the scene of the derailment for their good work on a cold night.
“It was really cold last night, and everybody – our department, the RCMP, and CP staff – did a wonderful job in extreme cold,” he said. “It was nasty to work in, but rain, shine, heat or cold, we’ve got to be out there and I’d like to say we did a really good job.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

Reporter/Photographer

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