It was a potentially dangerous situation in Regina early this week, but a runaway rail car loaded with asphalt thankfully didn’t do any damage when it drifted away from the Co-op Refinery.
The rail car rolled away from the Co-op Refinery in northeast Regina just before midnight on Tuesday night and travelled for a long distance down CN’s main line into the city.
On its runaway rail journey, the car crossed a number of major streets including: Ring Road, Winnipeg Street, Broad Street and Albert Street.
The rail car finally rolled to a stop on its own west of Albert Street near Elphinstone Street, after travelling a distance of well over four kilometres.
Brad DeLorey is public affairs manager for the refinery.
“We know it did leave the property but we don’t know any further details because Cando (Rail Services) and CN are currently conducting that investigation,” DeLorey said Friday.
Lee Jebb is a vice president at Cando Rail which is the company responsible for loading the asphalt and assembling the trains at the refinery.
“There was no immediate railway traffic in the immediate area for a rail collision,” he said. “There wasn’t any contact at a crossing, but whenever you have an unplanned movement, unplanned things can happen.”
Thankfully nothing did happen. It is believed the rail crossing signals would have been triggered by the rail car alerting any traffic on those major streets.
The company explained that the asphalt would not have been explosive if the car derailed. The car also travelled at slow speed, reaching a maximum speed of about 18 kilometres per hour.
Jebb explained the rail car had been loaded, and its air brake was set.
A worker is supposed to remain at scene and use the hand brake if the air brake was to release, but in this case the worker was too far away when that happened. The company workers could only try and give chase as the tanker rolled away.
An investigation involving Cando Rail, CN Rail and the Co-op Refinery is underway.
Regina Fire Chief and Mayor not told about runaway rail car
The first time the Regina fire chief found out about the drifting rail car was through media reports on Friday morning.
“We are concerned about this event. We’re equally concerned that there appears to have been a gap in the notification process,” fire chief Ernie Polsom told reporters at city hall on Friday afternoon.
The incident happened around midnight on Tuesday. However, city officials only became aware of the situation through media on Friday.
“Typically the call is to 911 and then the police service is notified. We are, in turn, notified as well through fire and protective services. That clearly did not happen and all I can say is we’re going to find out why because this is a very serious issue,” added Mayor Michael Fougere.
“Thank heavens that there was no injuries at all because this could have been much more serious than it was,” said Fougere. “Before we point fingers anywhere I want to know why that happened.”
The mayor pointed out that the city does have a robust response team to respond when an emergency strikes. However, they have to be notified first. He’s hoping to find out exactly what went wrong.
“Before we act upon any steps beyond that is to determine what happened, why it happened and then how we can make sure it doesn’t happen again.”