Long-term monitoring and habitat restoration plans are being drawn up in response to this month's CN Rail spill of some 5,000 litres of diesel fuel into the Squamish Estuary, a local official said this week.
The plans, along with ongoing work to clean up contaminated soil and contain any spread of contaminants from the spill, are part of the corporation's response to the spill, which occurred when a broken section of track punctured a CN locomotive's fuel tank on Nov. 8, District of Squamish spokesperson Christina Moore said in a statement.
Two contractors working for CN Rail — SNC Lavalin and Triton Environmental — were still on the site this week, Moore said. While there is no evidence that fuel leaked into the intertidal zone on the west side of the CN tracks, crews made containing the fuel a priority, “in particular anticipating rising waters with significant rain events” that were expected this week, she said.
Sara Johnston, Transport Canada spokesperson, last week said the agency had been informed of the spill. While Transport Canada oversees such matters, the Transportation Safety Board conducts the actual investigation, she told The Chief.
“As per normal procedures, we followed up with CN Rail regarding their remediation plans for both the spill and the inspection of the tracks to make sure it complies with the track safety rules as part of the Railway Safety Act,” Johnston wrote in an email.
As part of the cleanup's aftermath, crews have drilled nine monitoring wells and anticipate conducting daily monitoring until the end of December. “We are told that this will be the beginning of a two- to five-year monitoring plan,” Moore wrote.
CN officials plan to double the Transport Canada-mandated frequency of testing on the affected section of track in response to the incident, Moore said. As well, the District of Squamish anticipates that Transport Canada will provide local officials with a report on the incident and its aftermath “with the hopeful outcome that track maintenance and safety standards will be reviewed,” Moore wrote.