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Wabamum Lake Oil Spill


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CALGARY -- Dozens of people blocked the main Canadian National Rail crossing in their small Alberta town yesterday to protest against the pace at which the company is cleaning up a massive oil slick that has contaminated lake water and killed wildlife.


Residents and cottagers around Lake Wabamum, about 65 kilometres west of Edmonton, were also angry that the company failed to attend a meeting yesterday to respond to questions about Wednesday's train derailment.


Meanwhile, Alberta Environment Minister Guy Boutilier issued a cleanup order yesterday to CN that the government could enforce with fines.


A freight train derailed with 43 of 140 cars leaving the tracks. About 1.3 million litres of bunker fuel oil, used in liquid asphalt and to power barges and ships, has leaked from the cars.


CN Rail has doubled its staff to about 65 to help with the cleanup, but strong winds and breaches to the absorbent booms set out to contain the spill have hindered the work.


The gooey black slick on the lake has grown to more than eight kilometres long from an initial five. The company has run out of booms and is calling for help.


Residents continued to bring dozens of oil-drenched birds and other wildlife to a makeshift cleanup centre yesterday.


"There's an army of CN vehicles here with equipment to fix their track, and yet we're fending on our own here," cabin owner Don Gross told Canadian Press. "The trains are rolling and there's virtually nothing happening as far as cleanup. They're telling us there is, but we're not seeing it."


Alberta's opposition parties joined residents in the chorus of jeers.


Liberal Harry Chase, critic for parks and protected areas, urged the government to take over cleanup efforts to minimize environmental damage, especially since the area falls within a provincial park.


"It is extremely disappointing they have chosen to take a back-seat role while the efforts of private industry continue to fail," he said.


New Democratic environment critic David Eggen called on the province to declare a disaster, which would trigger government funds for the cleanup. He also suggested that the CN line be moved away from the lake to prevent future spills.


But the government rebuffed the criticism.


"It's not an effective use of taxpayer money to have cleanup crews on standby 24 hours a day anywhere in the province," department spokesman Robert Moyles said.


Government believes the polluter should do the cleanup, he said, adding that the province's role is to monitor and enforce.


"We've been holding their feet to the fire and will continue to do that," Mr. Moyles said.


He said cleaning up the lake is a "logistical challenge" to both the province and CN Rail since oil spills into waterways have been rare in Alberta.


Story Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Art...tional/National


More Here: http://www.google.ca/search?sourceid=navcl...Wabamum%20Spill






Posted Image


Half a million litres of oil still on Wabamun Lake!




So much for Pike Fishin for a while!

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* Residents who want more information about the spill can contact Alberta Environment at 1-800-222-6514.

* CN Rail: 1-866-694-8579, or send email to contact@cn.ca

* To volunteer for wildlife cleanup, call the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton: (780) 914-4118




They are currently in need of volunteers!

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Oil spill keeps people from Wabamun Lake


CBC News


No one should dip a toe into Wabamun Lake until an oil spill following a train derailment is cleaned up, health officials say.


Posted Image

Forty-three train cars derailed near Wabamun Wednesday. (CP Photo)


"We actually are taking some water samples this morning, both from the lake water and from the wells in the area, to test the level of contamination," Dr. Gerry Predy, Capital Health's medical officer of health said.


He advises that people stay away from the lake just west of Edmonton – no swimming, fishing or boating – until it's determined how much bunker fuel oil spilled from the train cars into the water.


"In terms of human health effects, the most typical one is just skin irritation," David Schindler, a water expert said, adding he'd keep pets away as well. "I don't think any humans will be silly enough to ingest it. But the symptoms in humans are nausea and diarrhea and nervous system damage."


Early Wednesday morning, 43 cars on a west-bound CN train derailed as they were passing between Wabamun Lake and a row of cottages.


Twenty-six of the cars were carrying bunker fuel oil, used in asphalt production and to power ships and barges.


CN spokesman Jim Feeny said they are trying to determine how much of the heavy oil leaked from the rail cars and how much got into the lake.


Additional booms were placed on the lake Thursday to try to contain the spill, which has been spreading because of high winds.


And TransAlta has halted production at its shoreline plant, because it uses water from the lake to convert coal to energy.


"I guess our first priority was to protect the power plant from damage and [we] boomed the inlet canal to ensure that any oil didn't come in and foul the condensers and piping and stuff in the plant," Ralph Leriger, a TransAlta spokesman, said.


Leriger wouldn't say how much shutting down the plant will cost the company.


Some residents are concerned that CN is spending more time fixing its track than worrying about the lake.


"Backhoes, hundreds of people, and they're working hard, and they'll work hard to fix [the track], but they don't have one man on this lake right now," Jay VanRassel said. "They've got all the resources, all the equipment, all the money to do it."


VanRassel thinks he and his neighbours should park their cars on the track until all the oil is removed from the lake.


Resident Agnes Rayner says she thinks CN will take care of the clean up.


"We've been living here for close to 50 years," Cliff Haderer added. "We've seen this lake come and go. Mother Nature takes care of it."


The 43 cars – 26 of which were carrying the heavy oil – were part of a 140-car train heading from Edmonton to Vancouver early Wednesday morning. About 5:20 a.m., as the train was passing between Wabamun Lake and a row of cottages, the cars left the track.


"It was just a loud bang," resident Dean Fodor said. "Everybody shot out of bed. It sounded like a car crash in the city. It definitely woke everyone up."


Twenty-two residents in the area were removed from their homes as a precaution. One of the derailed cars was carrying toluene, a hazardous petrochemical used to make paint thinner, nail polish and adhesives, but Feeny says that container was intact after the accident.


The derailment has closed CN's main line, and Feeny says they hope to reopen it by the end of the week, while the clean up will take at least another eight days.


The cause of the derailment is under investigation.



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Wabamun disaster shows lack of emergency plan

Tory government must act, not pass buck to corporations


Wabamun – NDP Opposition MLA David Eggen today called the Conservative government’s response to the unfolding environmental disaster on Wabamun Lake completely unacceptable. The NDP Environment Critic spent today meeting with local cottage owners and surveying the environmental damage to the lake and local wildlife.


“By washing its hands of the environmental disaster - and passing the buck to CN - precious time has been lost. CN’s priority is to repair the track to get the trains running again, not fight the oil spill. Leaving area residents on their own to try and stem the growing slick caused by the massive oil spill is shameful. Residents had every right to expect better from their provincial government,” said Eggen.


The NDP Opposition MLA called on the province to declare a disaster, thereby allowing all of the government’s resources to be applied to containing and cleaning up the spill. Eggen noted that Bunker C fuel oil contains many toxic chemicals that can have devastating long-term effects, so time is of the essence.


“This spill demonstrates that this province is completely lacking an environmental response capability to quickly address these types of disasters. This has to be the number one priority to fix,” Eggen said.


As part of its Water for Life strategy, Eggen is urging the government to immediately initiate a multi-stakeholder process to develop a watershed plan for Wabamun Lake. “This lake’s future lies with recreation and wilderness protection, not with heavy industry and the hauling of hazardous freight.”


“Longer-term the CN mainline should be re-located away from the lake, perhaps by having it run parallel to the existing Yellowhead Highway. This is one of the busiest rail corridors in Canada when it comes to hauling hazardous goods. This disaster is a wake-up call. It clearly shows that people, cottages, lakes and railways don’t mix,” Eggen concluded.



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* To volunteer for wildlife cleanup, call the Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton: (780) 914-4118



They are currently in need of volunteers!

I already called to inquire about voluteering. My Wife, nephew and myself wer going to go last week and they told us they only want volunteers from the Wabamun area. THey put us on an emergency call list...


So, I would bother bothering....


Trust me, I'm a little P.O.'d that they didnt want are help.....

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Just watched a special CBC report tonight on the spill(s). Yeah, this one, and another in BC.


They don't want anyone cleaning the birds right now due to a more dangerous chemical that was identified as being spilled in the water. It only took them (CN) FIVE days to reveal this! :curse:


One report at 5:30 PM indicated they needed donations of towels, etc. As far as I'm concerned.. buy what you need, and send the bill to CN!

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Avoid Wabamun water, province warns

About 70,000 litres of oil from spill more toxic than first thought


Hanneke Brooymans and Matt Hartley

The Edmonton Journal


Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Posted Image


CREDIT: Brian Gavriloff, The Journal


A volunteer hand-feeds a western grebe, left, from Lake Wabamun on Monday as work continues in efforts to nurse wildlife back to health after last week's CN oil spill.


EDMONTON - A strong warning was issued Monday to avoid drinking or bathing in water from Wabamun Lake or surrounding wells after environment officials discovered a hazardous chemical leaked into the lake.


Even birds soaked in oil from the huge spill following last Wednesday's CN derailment should no longer be handled, according to Alberta Environment.


Officials found out Monday that the single car that overturned carrying lubricating oil had more dangerous material than they first understood.


The car contained a hazardous chemical called pole treating oil, and about 70,000 litres of it leaked out.


The discovery was made when spill experts noticed a green liquid pooled at the accident site, said Irwin Huberman, an Alberta Environment spokesman.


The department is still conducting its own tests to verify what is in the oil.


But manufacturer Esso Imperial Oil describes it as a preservative used to treat the base of utility poles.


It contains polycyclic aromatic compounds, which can cause skin cancer after repeated contact. Repeatedly inhaling fumes from the oil over a prolonged period of time can also cause cancer of the lungs and other parts of the body, says a Material Safety Data Sheet.


The bunker C fuel oil in the other 11 ruptured cars is less hazardous.


Capital Health advised residents of the Village of Wabamun and the surrounding area to avoid using water from the lake and surrounding wells until further notice. People shouldn't wash dishes, water lawns and gardens, shower, bathe, swim, fish or boat in it.


"We want to do everything we can to eliminate exposure to dispersed products," said Dr. Gerry Predy, Capital Health's medical officer of health.


His staff are mapping out all the households along the lake which use the water to get an idea of existing exposure risks.


The pole treating oil is probably so diluted in the lake it won't be a problem, but assistant deputy environment minister Jay Nagendran said the department wants to err on the side of caution.


Under environmental legislation, CN is obliged to report any spills that pose a potential threat to people or the environment.


"Alberta Environment will take appropriate action against CN, which may include prosecution, if it is found that the company did not meet its reporting obligations," Environment Minister Guy Boutilier said in a news release.


CN spokesman Jim Feeny could not be reached for comment on the issue.


Liberal environment critic Hugh MacDonald said the latest information shows the province should have initiated the containment and cleanup rather than waiting for the railway.


This would have given the government access to the freight manifest so it would know what material was in each of the derailed cars and taken appropriate action, MacDonald said.


"Today is the sixth day, and we're just finding this out now?" he said.


"If CN was busy removing the debris from the track and repairing it so that they could return it to service, then the province could have got started right away at containment and cleanup. If people were out there, wading through water trying to save the wildlife, those people have every right to know what else leaked into that lake."


The cause of the accident, which derailed 45 cars and ruptured 12, is still under investigation by the Transportation Safety Board.


Speed is not considered to be a factor in the accident, which spilled about 730,000 litres of oil on the lake's north shore. The maximum speed at the accident point is 80 kilometres per hour.


The Transportation Safety Board has not seized the event recorder that notes the speed of the train and when the brakes were applied.


This is done only when the board thinks the data would contain information about factors that contributed to the cause of the accident, said Art Nordholm, a senior investigator with the board.


CN must give the board a download from the event recorder. Nordholm said he has not received that yet.


The company's investigation pointed to a faulty piece of rail. CN wouldn't reveal the speed of the train at the time of the accident.


Workers contracted by CN are deploying thousands of metres of new orange containment booms that arrived Sunday night at the main pier in Wabamun.


Passing thunderstorms grounded reconnaissance helicopters and forced them to pull boats out of the water occasionally, slowing the cleanup effort.


CN's daily information bulletin said Monday that East and Moonlight Bay were fully protected by the boom.


Crews continued deploying equipment to protect the still-uncontaminated west end of the lake.


CN spokesman Jim Feeny said the company has dealt with a handful of immediate emergency expense claims and will decide on others later.


Representatives from the Paul First Nation on the east edge of the lake joined CN officials for a helicopter tour to assess the threat to their shores.


Later in the day, they met with environmental experts Ron Goodman and Ed Owens to discuss training band members to help with the reclamation and cleanup.


Spokesman Dennis Paul said CN didn't notify them about the spill until hours after the derailment.


They have an emergency meeting scheduled with the company Wednesday to discuss their concerns.







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I've been on vacation so haven't had the chance to put in my 2cents.

As far as I'm concerned both the Province through Alberta Environment (AE)

and CN rail are both to blame for a shoddy job of responding to the spill.

And they continue to tell what could best be described as half truths.

We shouldn't let either CN or AE get away with the excuses that:

1. They need improved response plans

2. It takes a lot of time to get the resources to site

3. We didn't know about all the chenmicals spilled right away

As to the last, CN obviously had a complete manifest

so the first thing they should have done was find out what was spilled.

Failure to do so would have been equivalent to criminal negligence

if the chemical had been acutely toxic and someone had been injured or killed.

Just because it was "only oil" is no excuse for not identifying the substances spilled.

As to the others:

The oil industry in Alberta has had a spill response orgnaization called OSCAR,

which is a spill response team that includes protocalls and equipment,

for a very long time and has employed it on mumerous occasions.

For an oil spill related to the petrochemical industry,

they are usually able to have containment and cleanup resources on site

literally within hours.

The oil industry learned years ago that they have to report spills to AE

immediately, and for most of them AE has staff on site also within hours.

So the questions here are:

When did CN notify AE of the spill?

When did an AE representative show up on site?

When did AE issue the first clean up order?

What and when did CN identify to AE as to the spill contents ?

Why was OSCAR not activated?

My own personal guess is that both parties thought that since rail transport

comes under federal jursidiction that it was a federal reponisibility

and nobody at CN called AE or AE call CnN utill well after the fact.

Ant then subsequently, AE dithered about whether or not it was their responsibility.

Then, nobody thought to call out OSCAR because it was a railway problem,

and not an oil industry problem, even though the product came from that industry.

Shame on them all!

Now we see AE is going to have an comission to look into how response planse could be improved. Good idea! But why not use the ones you already have?

A pox on both their houses!!

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In my opinion THe CNR should not have needed any body to tell them to start cleaning up the spill. It was there tracks, there containers cars, there train. they should been cleaning immediatly. If so, maybe some of the mess could have avoided.... I hope they receive some very large fines... What a waste of a great fishery.... I can just imagine what this has done to the pike spawning area it occurred in.... :curse:

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It may have been their tracks, their train, their car,

but odds are it was customer oil

and most certainly it was not their lake,

although you might get the impression they thought so.

One of the reasons we have government

is so that privatge concerns that despoil public property

can be held to account for it.

To this pont I have seen little indication that either level of government

is holding up that end of their responsibility.

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Another article in the paper today on section B1 concerned me. It showed a photo of them "clear cutting" the happy salad beds on the Northern Part of the lake in order to collect the oil. I'm not really sure what other methods could be used to clean them, or what their recovery time might be.


It concerns me though as this area is prime pike spawning habitat. Pike eggs are laid haphazardly amongst marginal reeds or other waterside plants. They indicated they might put in artifical reeds for birds to nest, but nothing mentioned about the fish... again.


See also that cleanup is expected to last about another two months also. So much for going fishing there this Fall.


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Publication: Edmonton Journal; Date: Aug 12, 2005; Section: Front Page; Page: 1










The provincial government failed residents around Wabamun Lake, just like CN, by not being better prepared for the train derailment that spilled bunker oil and a hazardous wood preservative into the lake, Premier Ralph Klein said Thursday.


The premier said he will order Environment Minister Guy Boutilier to better equip the province for a similar disaster.


“I fault the province and I fault the railway because we didn’t have a disaster plan in place,” he said in Banff, where he is hosting the premiers’ summit.


“We don’t have booms and we don’t have things available because we never anticipated something of this nature ever happening.” Klein regretted that his government had to import containment booms from other provinces because Alberta didn’t have the floating barriers needed to contain the spill.


Klein has not spoken to Boutilier about his plan, covering every water body that could be damaged by similar incidents. His plan is to toughen requirements for companies, such as CN, so they have effective cleanup plans in place.


“If they don’t, the province will implement their disaster plan and charge the company for the cleanup,” Klein said.


Residents around the popular recreational lake west of Edmonton have complained that CN was slow and ineffective in preventing bunker oil and a hazardous wood preservative from contaminating Wabamun Lake after the Aug. 3 derailment. Alberta Environment is monitoring CN’s cleanup.


Klein also repeated Boutilier’s threat that Alberta will prosecute CN if it appears the company contravened the law by failing to immediately report that one car was leaking a potentially cancer-causing oil preservative used to treat utility poles.


Klein said the Banff conference of Canadian premiers kept him from visiting the crash site, but he has kept in regular contact with Boutilier and has spoken with Doug Goss, spokesman for the Wabamun residents’ group.


Boutilier was at Wabamun again on Thursday, this time with federal Environment Minister Stephane Dion in tow.


Boutilier also said Alberta is considering legislation to ensure the province has enough equipment to immediately respond to major oil spills.


Dion and Boutilier met with residents from the area who told them CN should not have had to go to the United States and other provinces to get equipment to deal with the spill. Fred Lindsay, MLA for the Stony Plain constituency, agreed. “It is unacceptable for CN, which transports dangerous commodities across our province — over and beside rivers and lakes — to not have immediate access to materials required to contain and clean up a spill,” he said.


The accident in Wabamun resulted in 45 cars derailing. Twelve ruptured, spilling about 700,000 litres of bunker fuel and the wood preservative, used to treat wooden utility poles, onto the ground and into the lake.


No adequate warning had been given to the public or people working on the cleanup about the health hazards associated with the potentially cancer-causing preservative. CN only made the public aware Monday that the liquid had spilled.


Dion announced his department could know within a few days whether Ottawa will prosecute CN for breaching environmental legislation, including the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and the Migratory Birds Convention Act.


Enforcing the law now does not help the hundreds of oilsoaked birds or the people with blackened beaches, Goss said. Nor can it help the people from the summer village of Whitewood Sands, who waded around in the guck for five days, trying to protect their properties, without realizing there could be hazardous chemicals in the water, he added.


CN could also face charges under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. Workers must either be supplied with protective equipment or be required to supply their own equipment if they are working in conditions where they could be exposed to hazardous chemicals, said Chris Chodan, a spokesman for Human Resources and Employment. This type of investigation can take up to two years, but typically lasts less than a year, he added. Capital Health announced Thursday that five wells tested in the immediate area of the spill show either no detectable level of the preservatives or trace amounts well below the safe drinking water standards. Two showed trace levels of naphthalene, which may be linked to the preservative. Results from the two wells showed levels of .03 and .04 parts per billion, well below the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency guideline of 20 parts per billion for children drinking the water. Further tests are planned in the area of the derailment and results are expected within the next several days. The Capital Health Authority still recommends residents of the Village of Wabamun and surrounding areas avoid sing the water from the lake and from wells located within 500 metres of the derailment site. Wells outside of 500 metres are at a lower risk, but as a precaution, residents may want to avoid using their well water.





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Nice photoshoppin on that image LT.. ;)


I won't tell people what was removed - I can tell you for certain though - it wasn't oil.



(It was actually the logo from my company on my jacket - didn't want to bring their name into anything out there - lest we be 'implicated' for something ridiculous.)

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Well, on the bright side, maybe the fishing pressure on the White fish may cease for a few years now.... and if all goes well and returns to somewhat normal state the whitefish may actually make a come back....Let keep our fingers crossed..... As for Pike fishing in Feb and March..... I'm still gonna go.... I never ate them anyway...always C&R....why would anyone want to eat a 15 pound pike anyway?


Hope the lake makes it! :fish_jump::boat::fish_jump:

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hunting Ban in Wabamum




Duck and goose hunting near Lake Wabamun has been banned as the cleanup of last month's oil spill continues.


The migratory bird hunting season, which opened Sept. 1 in the Lake Wabamun area, was closed indefinitely by a ministerial order from Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.


"Our main objective is to make sure both the birds and habitat reclamation can continue unaffected by additional activities in the area," said Dave Ealey, spokesman for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.


On Aug. 3, a CN train derailed near Wabamun, 65 km west of Edmonton, dumping more than 700,000 litres of bunker C fuel and a toxic wood preservative.


Everything within a 3.2-km radius of Lake Wabamun is out of bounds to hunters.



"Our hope is that this is seen to be a minimal impact on hunters and they'll take advantage of opportunities elsewhere to hunt waterfowl," Ealey said.


The Alberta Fish & Game Association welcomed the closure.


"It's our hope the lake will come back very soon to being what it was," said president Randy Collins.


Before the season started Capital Health advised hunters not to eat the waterbirds, muskrats and beaver from the Lake Wabamun area and to check migratory birds caught elsewhere for signs of oil.


Officials haven't been able to determine the impact of eating birds and animals exposed to the oil spill.

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SEPTEMBER 12, 2005 - 18:22 ET


TransAlta's Wabamun plant resumes operations


CALGARY, ALBERTA--(CCNMatthews - Sept. 12, 2005) - TransAlta Corporation (TSX:TA) (NYSE:TAC) today announced that its Wabamun unit four power plant has resumed full operations following the successful implementation of its return to service plan. The 279 MW plant resumed full operations on September 11, 2005.


"Thanks to the hard work and diligence of our employees, we were able to safely bring this power plant back into service," said Steve Snyder, TransAlta president and CEO. "During the restart activities, TransAlta employees worked closely with Alberta Environment, CN, key stakeholders and consultants to ensure that our activities were well coordinated with the cleanup efforts at Lake Wabamun."


TransAlta was forced to shut down the plant on August 3, 2005 due to the CN train derailment and resulting oil spill into Lake Wabamun, Alberta. After the shutdown, TransAlta monitored the situation in consultation with regulators and CN to determine when it was appropriate to return the Wabamun plant to service.


TransAlta estimates operating income has been adversely impacted by $15 million to $18 million to date as a result of the shut down. TransAlta is seeking recovery for all losses from those responsible.


TransAlta is a power generation and wholesale marketing company focused on creating long-term shareholder value. We maintain a low-risk profile for investors by operating a highly contracted portfolio of assets in Canada, the U.S., Mexico and Australia. Our focus is to efficiently operate our coal-fired, gas-fired, hydro and renewable facilities in order to provide our customers with a reliable, low-cost source of power. For more than 90 years, we've been a responsible operator and a proud contributor to the communities where we work and live.


This news release may contain forward-looking statements, including statements regarding the business and anticipated financial performance of TransAlta Corporation. These statements are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated by the forward-looking statements. Some of the factors that could cause such differences include legislative or regulatory developments, competition, global capital markets activity, changes in prevailing interest rates, currency exchange rates, inflation levels and general economic conditions in geographic areas where TransAlta Corporation operates.

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Conductor on Spot - in trouble with CN and union


A CN Rail conductor is in hot water with his employer and his own union after he accused the railroad of blatantly ignoring safety regulations and putting public safety at risk.


CN spokesman Jim Feeny said Mike Melymick failed to produce specific examples of the allegations by a CN-imposed deadline of Saturday at 6 p.m.


Now the company is deciding what, if any, action it will take against Melymick, who is chairman of the Alberta legislative board of the United Transportation Union.


Melymick told the Sun last week that CN trains are leaving the railyard without being properly inspected, with rundown batteries in their braking systems, and even pulling cars that have no documentation to show what they contain.


He warned that disasters far worse than the Lake Wabamun oil spill are on the horizon if CN doesn't clean up its act.



After hearing of the allegations, CN wrote to Melymick and told him to send the general manager specific examples of the allegations by the deadline, said Feeny. But the response he e-mailed wasn't satisfactory to CN brass.


"We asked Mr. Melymick to provide specific examples. He did not do so," said Feeny. "We consider it a serious matter. These are serious allegations raised in a very public forum without substance."


Even Melymick's own union appears to be steamed over his comments. On Friday, the international office of the United Transportation Union posted a statement on its website saying Melymick wasn't speaking on behalf of the union when he made the allegations.


Melymick "was not authorized to make any statements on behalf of the UTU, and UTU International has no documentation or other information to suggest that any of the comments made to the media by that member are factually correct," said the Cleveland, Ohio-based organization.


Phone messages left on Melymick's cell- phone and home phone weren't returned yesterday.


On Aug. 3, a 43-car CN train derailed near Wabamun, 65 km west of Edmonton, dumping 700,000 litres of oil into the lake.

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