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Probe Seeks Cause of Train Derailment Near Maine Border
01/08/2014   Reported By: Tom Porter

A freight train carrying propane and crude oil that derailed last night night in northwest New Brunswick near the Maine border continues to burn, and has prompted officials to keep about 150 people away from their homes. The cause of the accident is under investigation, but is believed to have been a mechanical problem.  Tom Porter has more.

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Probe Seeks Cause of Train Derailment Near Maine B
Originally Aired: 1/8/2014 5:30 PM

The Canadian National Railway train derailed at about 7 p.m. local time, according the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. "It experienced what is known in the industry as an undesired emergency brake application that normally occurs when the train comes apart," says the TSB's Dan Holbrook.

Holbrook told the CBC that a mechanical failure caused the train brakes to go into emergency mode, which made the train stop quickly. CN officials say that of the 17 cars that derailed, five contain crude oil and four contain propane. Some of the propane cars are venting and some of the crude cars are burning.

Holbrook says there are loaded cars of liquified petroleum gas at the site that are under pressure, and he says the accident could have been much worse. "Absolutely," he says. "It's always fortunate if something like this happens and it is fairly remote, I do realize that there are a number of families that have been displaced from their homes, but fortunately at this point there are no reports of people sustaining injury."

Although there were no immediate injuries, officials are looking at environmental and health impacts. Says Plaster Rock Village emergency measures coordinator Sharon Dewitt. "The air was not an issue because the wind is coming out of the west, and it's blowing the smoke plume to the east and there was nothinhg to the east except forest."

CN president Claude Mongeau spoke with reporters Wednesday, and issued an apology to those affected by the accident. "My first words would be to apologize to the citizens of Plaster Rock for the inconvenience.  We know that a number of families have been evacuated as a precautionary measure, and we hope to contain this incident so they can come back to their homes and back to their own business as soon as possible when the situation is safe."

The company said says its dangerous goods specialists are on site. Plaster Rock is approximately 35 miles east of Caribou, Maine. The incident has once again rasied concerns about the safety of rail shipments of oil in North America. In July, 47 people were killed in Lac Megantic Quebec, when a train carrying oil derailed in the center of town.

Keith Shortall contributed to this story.



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