CN is not obligated to publicize the results of an ongoing investigation into last month’s train derailment that took place on Highway 99, just south of Pemberton.
“The CN investigation is ongoing and internal,” said Emily Hamer, CN’s regional manager for public and government affairs Tuesday (Feb. 12). She did not provide any additional information on the incident or when the investigation would conclude. She referred any further requests for information to the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) of Canada.
Three empty rail cars came off the tracks on Jan. 3, with one falling off an overpass onto the highway, blocking both north and southbound lanes for several hours. No injuries were reported, and CN completed minor repairs to the bridge over Highway 99 before traffic resumed.
“We took a look around and found some mechanical issues that the railway was aware of,” said TSB spokesperson Chris Krepski at the time of the incident. “There were no injuries or any dangerous goods released, so basically it’s something that the railway will be able to handle.”
After attending the scene, TSB officials determined there was no need to conduct a full investigation.
Pemberton Mayor Jordan Sturdy said Tuesday he wants more information about the incident.
“The question is whether or not the (mechanical) malfunction was the result of negligence” or accidental circumstances, he said. “That would be interesting to know, but it is a private company, albeit operating on public land.”
Sturdy also expressed his disappointment in the investigation process, saying he’d like an opportunity to appeal to CN to publicize its findings, before adding that federal legislation addressing this issue is currently in the works in Ottawa.
“I’m not sure how it’s going to be formulated, but it’s going through Parliament right now,” he said. “(Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP) Mark Strahl is going to provide me with the draft legislation.”
A TSB spokesperson was unaware of the proposed legislation cited by Sturdy, but said a similar bill passed in 2012 amending Canada’s Railway Safety Act. Bill S-4 is intended to improve the oversight capacity of the federal Department of Transport by, for example, requiring rail companies to obtain a safety-based operating certificate after complying with regulatory requirements.
The January derailment was the second major CN Rail mishap in the Sea to Sky corridor in the past three months. On Nov. 8, a broken segment of CN track punctured the fuel tank of a CN locomotive that was en route to Squamish, spilling approximately 5,000 litres of diesel fuel onto the tracks and into the Squamish Estuary. Results of the investigation into the cause of that incident have not been announced.