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Discussion Starter · #1 ·

New Calgary evacuation as damaged bridge strands fuel-loaded rail cars

A collapsing Calgary rail bridge appears to have "stabilized somewhat," city officials say, but five cars carrying a flammable, diesel-like substance remain stranded and at risk of falling into the Bow River.

Officials now hope to use heavy cables to secure the final five cars, as well as a sixth empty one, and keep them out of the river.

"The last thing we want is these cars running down the river, and causing problems downstream at other bridges or anything else," Acting Fire Chief Ken Uzeloc said Thursday morning, after earlier stressing: "Right now, the public is safe."

Emergency crews evacuated an 800-metre radius of the site after the 3:30 a.m. derailment. The evacuated section includes a section of Deerfoot Trail, a major Calgary thoroughfare. That closure will further leave traffic in near-gridlock in Alberta's biggest city, as flooding closures were already causing extensive delays.

The CP rail train was mostly over the bridge early Thursday morning when its crew noticed it had partially derailed. They called 911.

There were no injuries and no leaks are yet reported, CP spokesman Ed Greenberg said in an e-mail. "The cause is under investigation," he added.

Crews are setting up booms downstream, to catch some of the diesel-like substance if it is ultimately spilled.

Images from the scene show a single section has buckled, and is facing down toward the river. Mr. Uzeloc said that section dropped two feet between 4:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. local time. But, at 8 a.m., Mr. Uzeloc said the bridge hadn't moved in 45 minutes.

The Bonnybrook bridge is just southeast of the downtown core, and the surrounding area - a mix of industrial and commercial land - has been evacuated. No homes have been affected. Mr. Uzeloc said he did not know when roads would reopen.

"Until we have a better idea on whether we can safely get them out, I don't want other people in the area …Obviously, the safety of everybody is more important than the commute in," he said.

With traffic cameras already showing long delays, Mayor Naheed Nenshi urged residents of the city's southeast - who would typically rely on the Deerfoot - to "please just stay home until we get roads opened."

There are environmental concerns, though the substance the train is carrying is flammable but not necessarily explosive, the fire chief said. The bridge typically sits about eight metres above water level, though water levels remain high after last week's flood.

CP is bringing in a crane, but lifting a full rail car is a monumental task. They each weigh about 35,000 kilograms.

By 8 a.m., officials had removed all but six train cars from the bridge. One is empty, and the other five are carrying a petroleum substance similar to diesel. CP couldn't say what it is.

Crews are now focusing on stabilizing those five cars - by, for instance, stringing cable through them, so that they either don't fall, or don't float away if they do fall. Officials will also try and empty the rail cars, though that could require workers to go onto the bridge, something Mr. Uzeloc hopes to avoid. That process could also talk at least four hours.

"I don't want to put anybody on the bridge unless I absolutely have to," he said.

It wasn't the only emergency fire crews were facing. A blaze broke out at an office building close to the badly damaged Stampede grounds area downtown. The fire was quickly extinguished and no one was injured.

Near the derailment site, Brad Lorne, Calgary's deputy fire chief, said the department has trained for multiple disasters at once, but those in the mock exercises find it difficult to believe it can actually occur.

"Under a situation like we have in the city, we're working like crazy to fix the problem with the flooding, and that disaster. The fire department's ready and we've been handling lots of things with the manpower that we have," he said. "The curve ball is the 3 o'clock in the morning phone call that we have a rail incident. We deal with it."

After flooding hit Calgary last week, city-owned bridges were immediately inspected, crews said. But this rail bridge is under federal jurisdiction. CP told fire crews it was inspected Saturday, and its rails were inspected Monday.

Officials said it was too early to say whether the failure was specifically a result of flooding.
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·

Train cars that derailed on a Calgary bridge Thursday morning have now been stabilized and officials say they are confident the cars will not fall into the water.

The six cars were part of a train that derailed on southeast Calgary's Bonnybrook rail bridge around 3:45 a.m. MT. They were at risk of falling into the fast-moving Bow River, but officials have tethered the cars together so they will dangle over the water instead of floating down the river if they fall further.

The bridge initially buckled and dropped about two feet (0.6 metres) but has not dropped any lower since 9 a.m.

Heavy machinery was moved in around noon and crews are in the process of setting up air pumps to extract material from the derailed cars.

Five of the Canadian Pacific rail cars contain petroleum diluent, which is used to thin petroleum products, including bitumen from Alberta oilsands, for transporting through a pipeline.

Bridge not among those inspected by city

The bridge was inspected by CP Saturday and the tracks were inspected Monday. The bridge was also scheduled to be inspected today, said CP spokesman Ed Greenberg.

City-owned bridges are safe and have been inspected three times for structural stability following Calgary's devastating floods, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said at a noon news conference.

The buckled Bonnybrook rail bridge is owned by CP. The city does not have the authority to inspect railway bridges, which are under federal jurisdiction.

That is a long-standing frustration among municipalities and there needs to be a serious discussion about why they are not subject to city regulation, Nenshi said.

"Let me be blunt," the mayor said. "A lot of people have lost their jobs at CP Rail the past year. How many bridge inspectors were let go?

"Once this is over, I'll be looking for answers," he said. "It does nobody any good to get angry when we have a crisis situation."

While federal response has been satisfying so far, Nenshi said he was not happy that it took CP officials six hours to return his calls after the train derailed.

He said there is frustration among mayors and cities about a lack of municipal rights to inspect bridges owned by railway companies.

"How is it that we don't have regulatory powers over this, but it's my guys risking their lives over this?" Nenshi said.

Cam Uzeloc, Calgary's acting fire chief, said earlier today that fire officials were concerned the cars could fall into the river and cause problems downstream at other bridges.

The bridge is 7.5 metres above the water and Transportation Safety Board officials said they were surprised with the situation.

"Don't hear of this happening very often," said inspector James Carmichael. "Bridge structures are usually pretty strong."

Evacuation ordered

The area about a kilometre around the bridge has been evacuated. There are no homes within the evacuation zone, but several businesses are affected, the city said.

"[The contents] being a flammable product, we wanted to make sure we had people out of the area in case something happened," said Uzeloc.

There have been no leaks identified so far, he added.

Burrell said it was too early to tell if the incident is flood-related.

The majority of the train made it across the bridge before the incident, which happened sometime before 3:45 a.m. MT.

Uzeloc said cables would be attached to the cars remaining on the bridge and that cranes would then be used to remove them.

A command post has been set up in the southeast industrial area with fire, police and medical services.

The incident is causing a heavy impact on traffic. Deerfoot Trail, a major road in the city, has been closed between Glenmore Trail and Blackfoot Trail. A portion of Ogden Road has also been closed.


YourAdministrator, eh?
8,000 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
That bridge is walking distance from my last shop, about a block away from my friend's motorcycle shop and ... about a three-minute-drive to where my laser and plasma tables reside ... and my work computer.

I have driven by that bridge every work-day for the last 12-years as a metal-guy and I have driven under that bridge a thousand times before that when I was the computer-tech for CP-Rail when I would stop-in to fix or upgrade all the computers at that site (that is at the south-end of the Alyth-yard)

Yuppers ... that is part of my normal stompin' grounds.

YourAdministrator, eh?
8,000 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Final report on the bridge.

Big flood at root of bridge collapse: report

CALGARY - The Transportation Safety Board says unprecedented flood water was to blame for a derailment and partial bridge collapse in Calgary last year.

Investigator George Fowler says the water, at the height of southern Alberta's devastating floods, scoured away the foundation of the Bonnybrook bridge.

Six cars in a Canadian Pacific Railway (TSX:CP) freight that were loaded with petroleum dilutant derailed and hung over the Bow River, but were safely removed.

Fowler says CP's inspection of the bridge exceeded Transport Canada requirements.

He says the bridge, which was built in 1897 and expanded in 1912, simply failed because of the force of the water.

Fowler also says it wouldn't have been possible to anticipate the accident would happen.
So - the flood that shredded so much of Calgary, was the un-doing of the CP-rail bridge as well, it just happened a week after the river reached peak height.
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