A CN crew works to clear the site of a derailed coal train and lay new track on Feb. 22.

A CN crew works to clear the site of a derailed coal train and lay new track on Feb. 22.

CN reopens rail line

CN workers reopened a Prince Rupert rail line early Thursday morning, two days after a coal train derailed about 25 km northwest of Houston.

CN workers reopened a Prince Rupert rail line early Thursday morning, two days after a coal train derailed about 25 km northwest of Houston.

Forty-six coal cars derailed in the crash, but the train engine stayed on track. No injuries have been reported, and so far it appears no spilled coal or train debris got into the nearby creeks or the Bulkley River.

Sylvia Sommer was at home Tuesday after noon she heard a train whistle followed by a load crash.

“My property is a hell of a mess,” she said. “I have property on both sides and they’ve made a mess of everything.”

Josh Fendick, who owns the Back 40 Ranch just north of the crash site, said CN workers told him they won’t know what caused the crash for some time.

“They said 19 cars were still standing and the rest were all accordioned together,” he said. “It’s a pretty good mess down there.”

CN workers have been working to clear the tracks of debris and install new rail. Dozens of flatbed trucks have been hauling in 30 to 40-foot lengths of pre-made track to the site.

“By law, CN is required to clean up the mess and they’re doing that now,” said Norm Fallows, a B.C. environmental officer.

After inspecting the site on Wednesday, Fallows said it appears no environmental damage has been done to either Dockrill or Emerson Creek, which runs right by the crash site.

“Coal, for the most part, is an inert material and we don’t have too many issues with it,” said Fallows. In large amounts, spilled coal can be a problem, he added, but that wasn’t the case in this derailment.

According to provincial regulations, CN has hired an independent environmental consultant to do further studies on the site.

See the Feb. 29 edition of the Houston Today for more on this story.