CN donates 20K to city fire department for tunnel response

(From left to right) Sarnia CAO Chris Carter, Sarnia Fire Chief Brian Arnold, and CN Manager Public Affairs Daniel Salvatore. October 8, 2019. (Photo by City of Sarnia)

CN Rail has donated $20,000 to Sarnia Fire and Rescue Services in appreciation of the department’s response to the June 28 derailment in the St. Clair Tunnel.

44 cars and the mid-train remote locomotive of a CN freight train derailed on the Canadian side of CN’s tunnel between Sarnia and Port Huron, Michigan.

While there were no injuries, one dangerous goods car loaded with sulphuric acid was damaged and released most of its load.

Train derailment inside the St. Clair tunnel between Sarnia and Port Huron. June 28, 2019. (BlackburnNews photo by Colin Gowdy)

Sarnia fire at St. Clair Tunnel train derailment June 28, 2019. ( photo by Colin Gowdy)

Sarnia Fire Chief Brian Arnold said they played a significant role in the command post at the scene.

“During the incident, we had crews down there in and out at various times, checking in, monitoring the situation closely and communicating on a daily basis with CN,” said Arnold. “We were down there while they were removing rail cars out of the tunnel itself and even prior to that, was the investigation by our HAZMAT crew going into the tunnel, trying to get to the epicentre of the derailment and determine what dangerous goods had spilled from the rail car.”

Chief Arnold said firefighters conducted air monitoring and tested water while CN employees and contractors worked around the clock over the Canada Day weekend to remove or neutralize the sulfuric acid.

He said they also put out fires that ignited in a scrap heap of vehicles removed from the wreckage.

Arnold said they plan to use the funds on new equipment.

“We created a shopping list already for it. There are a number of pieces of equipment, particularly pertaining to hazardous materials response that needed updating and upgrading.”

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is still investigating the cause of the derailment.

The tunnel was closed for 11 days while crews cleared the scene and laid new track.