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Train strikes debris, spills diesel on tracks near Agassiz

Environmental crews investigating

A passenger train that hit debris resulted in a diesel fuel spill along a section of railroad near Agassiz on Friday (March 1), Canada Pacific Kansas City (CPKC) Rail has confirmed.

“A VIA locomotive made contact with debris on the track east of Agassiz, B.C., Friday evening resulting in damage to the locomotive fuel tank and a diesel spill on the railroad right of way,” CPKC spokesperson Terry Cunha stated in an email to Black Press Media.

The incident happened around 6:15 p.m. on CPKC Rail tracks, at the Bobb Road and Lougheed Highway field crossing.

“The impact caused damage to the engine and some train cars,” VIA Rail stated in an email on Saturday afternoon.

There were initial reports that it was an estimated 5,000 to 6,000 litres of diesel that spilled, but that number was not confirmed by VIA Rail or CPKC.

There were 121 passengers aboard the train, and there were no reports of injuries.

Cunha said area first responders helped contain the spill and an environmental team was dispatched to further work on cleanup and assess the situation. The incident is under investigation.

“The safety of our passengers and staff is our top priority, and emergency services were immediately contacted to secure the scene,” VIA Rail stated.

The provincial government stated they are working with the Seabird Island First Nation and their fire department to manage any diesel fuel that has spilled into the local environment.

“Regular incident updates are being provided to the First Nation, and we will know more in the coming days,” the province told The Agassiz-Harrison Observer.

Sq’éwqel (Seabird Island Band) issued an advisory hours after the incident.

“As a precaution, chief and council has ensured homes along the highway between Seabird Island Road and the gas bar are notified to avoid using their water until it has been confirmed the wells are unaffected,” the advisory read, in part.

Anyone who lives in the area and smells diesel in their water should immediately notify emergency preparedness co-ordinator Danika Snook at 604-202-0834.

The train was not able to proceed due to the damage. All passengers were transported via bus to Vancouver, Kamloops and Jasper.

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Adam Louis

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