LYTTON – On July 31, 2006 at 11 p.m., a Canadian Pacific Rail train derailed on a railway bridge crossing the Thompson River near Lytton, B.C. Twenty cars of a 99-car train derailed dumping an estimated 800 tonnes of metallurgical coal into the river.
Representatives from Environment Canada, the British Columbia Ministry of Environment, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada are on site at Lytton to monitor the clean up of the spill of coal into the Thompson River.
Federal government agencies and the B.C. Ministry of Environment are working with the First Nations Emergency Services Society, and affected First Nations to ensure that residents in the area are supported and know where to seek assistance.
At this time, local First Nations are engaged in a food, social and ceremonial salmon fishery on the river. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is working with the local First Nations to assess impacts of the spill on the fishery.
While there is no commercial fishery in the area, there is an upstream recreational fishery, which may catch fish exposed to the coal spill. As a precautionary approach, fishers who may have caught and retained salmon in the Fraser River since the time of the spill should consider retaining but not consuming the fish until analysis of the samples collected can be completed.
The best information received to date suggests that the risk to human health associated with consumption of salmon potentially exposed to the coal material is very small.
The Ministry of Environment is responsible for steelhead and trout, and the shoreline. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for salmon and fish habitat. Both federal and provincial agencies are working with other concerned parties to monitor the environmental conditions resulting from this derailment and its effect on fish and other wildlife.
At around 11 p.m. on Monday, July 31, a Canadian Pacific Railway (CP) train derailed while crossing a rail bridge at Lytton, B.C. A total of 20 cars derailed, with eight remaining on the bridge structure and 12 falling into the Thompson River, which is approximately 15 metres deep at the bridge. The rail bridge is located just north of the confluence of the Thompson and Fraser rivers.
The railcars, each with a capacity of about 120 tonnes, were carrying metallurgical coal, and it is estimated that the total amount of coal that went into the river was more than 800 tonnes.
Tuesday, Aug. 1
· CN Rail, as owner of the rail line, established an Incident Command Post (ICP) at the CN office on River Road in Lytton.
· First Nations Emergency Services Society has joined the incident command team.
· B.C. Ministry of Environment (MOE) staff arrived at the scene at approximately 10 a.m. to survey the river, to oversee removal of coal from the rail cars on the bridge, to provide technical support and to monitor the progress and nature of the clean-up activity.
· MOE and CN staff took water and coal samples and conducted a down-river boat survey.
· The Regional Environmental Emergency Team (REET) was convened at 3 p.m. by Environment Canada. The REET process allows environmental regulators and other parties, including local First Nations, to identify environmental priorities for protection and cleanup.
Wednesday, Aug. 2
· ICP remained activated and a second REET meeting was held.
· CN, MOE, Environment Canada and related federal and provincial agencies have staff on-site.
· CN removed the last rail cars from the bridge.
· DFO distributed an advisory notice to all First Nations in the area to avoid consumption of fish caught in the area until an analysis of samples has been completed.
· Ministry of Environment staff were sampling water and checking fish near Hope Gate to determine if there were any downstream effects from the spill.
Thursday, Aug. 3
· CN crews began repairing rail ties, track and bridge decking damaged by the derailment. That work continues today.
· A boat has been deployed in the river to contain and remove any debris, including rail ties, that has fallen from the bridge during repair work.
· CN is working with regulators to develop a plan to remove the coal and cars in the river and on the banks.
Ministry of Environment
250 851-6628 (cell)
Dept. Fisheries and Oceans Canada
CN Public Affairs
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