Calls for pipelines after fiery train derailment in Saskatchewan

Click to play video: 'Freight train derails, catches fire near Guernsey, Sask.'
Freight train derails, catches fire near Guernsey, Sask.
WATCH: Guernsey, Sask., was evacuated after a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed on Feb. 6, 2020 – Feb 6, 2020

The reeve of a Saskatchewan municipality where a second fiery train derailment has occurred in less than two months says it’s time for the federal government to look more seriously at pipelines to move oil.

Jack Gibney of the Rural Municipality of Usborne says “oil is going to move one way or another.”

“We have no choice.”

A Canadian Pacific Railway freight train jumped the tracks near Guernsey, about 115 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon, early Thursday.

The Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency said 31 of the train’s 104 cars derailed and a dozen caught fire, sending flames and thick, black smoke into the air.

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The fire was still burning Friday morning. The Transportation Safety Board said its investigators could not get to the wreckage as a result.

About 85 residents who were ordered to leave the agricultural community on Thursday remained out of their homes. Gibney said the smoke had subsided and people might be able to return on the weekend if the wind worked in their favour.

Residents gathered in the town hall in nearby Lanigan on Friday and met with CP officials.

Gibney said people appreciate the rail company’s efforts, but are still concerned about rail safety and the transportation of oil.

Another derailment about 10 kilometres away on the same set of tracks in December also caused a fire when 1.5 million litres of oil spilled.

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After the second derailment Thursday, the federal government ordered lower speed limits for all trains carrying large amounts of dangerous goods.

Trains carrying oil move through Guernsey every hour, said Gibney, who added the track is busier than it’s ever been.

“We call it our Canadian pipeline here going by.”

Tom Lukiwski, the member of Parliament for the area, said he believes pipelines are the safest way to transport crude oil and bitumen.

“This, I hope, will be a reminder to the government that they have to take a very hard and long look at increasing our pipeline capacity in this country.”

Alberta and Saskatchewan have been pushing for pipelines as a better option than rail.

Earlier this week, Premier Scott Moe, who is in Washington for a national governors meeting, said the idea of a pipeline to Churchill, Man., was worth exploring.

The province has formed a committee to examine ways to get more pipelines built.

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Opponents have said the boggy tundra and muskeg in northern Manitoba would make any pipeline susceptible to spills.

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