Inside Logistics

Saying sorry: CN apologizes to Manitoba rancher for oil spill after derailment

Rancher had complained the company ignored him for two days after Saturday's 37-car derailment


February 19, 2019
by Bob Weber The Canadian Press (CPSTF)

ST-LAZARE, Man. – A top CN executive telephoned a Manitoba rancher on Monday to apologize after one of the company’s trains derailed and spilled oil on his land.

“CN executive vice-president Sean Finn spoke directly with Mr. Jayme Corr … to discuss how best to remedy any damages stemming from the derailment and to reassure him that we will be working closely with him and his family in the coming days,” said company spokesman Jonathan Abecassis.

Corr, who had initially complained the company ignored him for two days after Saturday’s 37-car derailment, said the call went well.

“He was sorry that they didn’t get in contact with me sooner,” he said. “(It) should have happened a couple days ago, but I’m feeling a little more confident in the cleanup.”

CN was still unable to release any information on how many of the derailed cars were leaking or how much oil was released.

A government spokesman said Monday there was no danger of the oil entering the nearby Assiniboine River.

Corr, who has 250 cattle on almost 1,000 hectares of land, said that depends on the cleanup. He said the spill occurred on an oxbow of the river which still holds water.

“There’s oil sitting on top of the ice,” he said. “They’ve got to get it scraped off there.

“As soon as it runs off, (the river) is where this is going to end up.”

He said he uses the oxbow to water his cattle in the summer.

Corr, whose home is about a kilometre from the wreck site, said he was told when the spill occurred that he may have to leave.

A firefighter told him on the weekend that it looked as if seven rail cars had split open, he said.

“There’s a lot of oil on that oxbow,” he said – enough for Corr to catch the smell from his own yard.

“I’m feeling a little better now,” he said. “I just wish that face-to-face had happened a little sooner.”

Cleanup crews from CN and investigators from the Transportation Safety Board were at the spill site.