Train cars derail into the Thompson River, British Colombia, chemicals spilled

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Chemicals in the Thompson River were said to be found after four Canadian Pacific Railway (CP Rail) cars containing chemicals derailed near Lytton, British Columbia, Canada on Tuesday night.

The derailment occurred just northeast of Lytton when a landslide hit in the middle of a freight train with about 100 cars at around 7:00 pm PDT (02:00 UTC) Tuesday evening. One car remained on the tracks, another was on a river bank, and two were submerged in the Thompson, one of them fully submerged and the other partially submerged. CP states that the cars were carrying the chemical ethylene glycol, commonly found in products such as antifreeze and windshield washer fluid. Glycol is water soluble and biodegradable but is causing concern to local fisheries and people dependent on aquatic life survival. Even though there is not enough chemical to be toxic after dilution in the water, there is still expressed concern that it may cause additional stress to aquatic life.

Despite protective measures, like a protective double hull, investigations found that broken valves and holes are causing the chemical to leak into the river. CP Rail originally denied that any chemical was leaking, but is now driving efforts to plug the leaks.

The Thompson River is a tributary of the larger Fraser River. The area is sensitive to harm because migrating salmon pass through and are in already in dwindling numbers in recent years.

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