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Beaver dam and rain to blame for train derailment in Burnaby

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

VANCOUVER --  A washed-out beaver dam is to blame for a seven-car derailment in Burnaby on Saturday, according to CN Rail.

The 152-car, coal-laden train was en route to Vancouver around 11 a.m. when heavy rains washed out a beaver dam and eroded the soil near the tracks, according to CN spokeswoman Emily Hamer.

“I can confirm the cause of the derailment was due to heavy rainfall that led to a beaver dam washout,” she said.

“Currently, cleanup is well underway, track reconstruction is also underway.”

Hamer said there are routine track inspections to look out for hazards such as beaver dams and the last such inspection was conducted “only a couple of days ago.”

There’s no estimate as to how much coal spilled out of three cars that flipped onto their sides, but an environmental group is now sounding the alarm as Fisheries and Oceans Canada has labeled the spill area a “sensitive fish and wildlife habitat.”

A spokesman from B.C.’s Ministry of Environment said Sunday officials are down at the creek near Cariboo Road and Government Street examining the risk.

“Almost the entire content of one car has been emptied into the creek and the contents of a second car are spread down the creek bank,” said a statement from Voters Taking Action on Climate Change.

“Given that heavy rains were widely forecast for this weekend, this calls into question how closely CN is monitoring the safety status of the rail lines used by heavy and long coal trains.”

The train is owned by CP Rail, but Hamer said two CN Rail employees were operating it on a CN track during the derailment.


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