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Crews work to remove flammable cargo from scene of Calgary derailment

Workers prepare to empty the contents and then right seven railway cars that derailed last night in Calgary, Alberta on Wednesday, September 11, 2013.

Chris Bolin/Chris Bolin

The cleanup continues in Calgary today after eight train tank cars carrying a flammable petroleum product derailed in an inner-city Calgary neighbourhood on Wednesday night.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. said the slow moving northbound train derailed after leaving its Calgary rail yard just after 5 p.m. local time. According to CPR and the Calgary fire department, the derailed cars did not leak, and no one was injured.

CPR spokesman Ed Greenberg said the tank cars contained liquid diluent, a petroleum product that is mixed with bitumen so the heavy oil can move through pipelines. He said for CPR's reporting purposes, it counted eight tank cars that derailed. However, the eighth car was one that just had a wheel off the tracks and was not noticeable.

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On Wednesday night, roads in the area were blocked off and the rail yard, a public pool and 142 houses in the Inglewood neighbourhood were evacuated, although residents were quickly allowed to return.

Days after Calgary's June floods, six CPR train cars derailed and a bridge partially collapsed, leaving tank cars containing petroleum products hanging precariously over Calgary's Bow River. This newest derailment is not far from that site, and local Alderman Gian-Carlo Carra said concerns about train safety in cities and towns deserves a "no holds barred" public discussion. Later Thursday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi will hold a press availability to comment on the newest derailment.

Although fire department officials initially said there was no gas leak, on Thursday morning they said a break in a natural gas line alongside the rail line exacerbated the emergency situation on Wednesday night, but the line was quickly shut off.

On Thursday, heavy machinery was being used to off-load the liquid product from the train cars. When the product is completely removed the cars will be righted. Transportation Safety Board officials were also on the scene.

The railway company has had several recent oil spills. Five tank cars ferrying crude oil and operated by CPR derailed near Jansen, Sask., in May. One car leaked about 575 barrels of oil.

A CPR freight train holding oil derailed in April in Ontario. Two of the roughly 20 cars contained crude. About 400 barrels of oil spilled, although CP's original estimate was four barrels of oil.

In March, CPR had a derailment and spill in Minnesota. There, 14 of a train's 94 cars derailed, leaking about 1,000 gallons, or about 24 barrels, of oil.

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A train carrying crude oil derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Que., in July, killing dozens of people. CPR was contracted to ship the crude, and it handed off the cars to Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. MM&A was operating the train when it derailed in Lac-Mégantic.

Energy companies have turned to rails to transport oil products as growth in the oil and gas industry outpaces pipeline capacity.

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Carrie Tait joined the Globe in January, 2011, mainly reporting on energy from the Calgary bureau. Previously, she spent six years working for the National Post in both Calgary and Toronto. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario and a bachelor’s degree in political studies from the University of Saskatchewan. More

Mergers and Acquisitions Reporter

Jeffrey Jones is a veteran journalist specializing in mergers, acquisitions and private equity for The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2013, he was a senior reporter for Reuters, writing news, features and analysis on energy deals, pipelines, politics and general topics. More

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