Ottawa Journal Saturday 5 January 1977|
25 miles from Cornwall:
Sulphuric acid spilled in 44-car derailment
Canadian Pacific Railways have begun mopping up large amounts of sulphuric acid and another chemical which spilled during a 44-carr derailment on the Ontario-Quebec border at Dalhousie Mills, Quebec, 23 miles northeast of Cornwall.
Lancaster OPP said the chemicals represented no danger, as CP officials have been able to walk around the wreckage without taking special precautions. Truckloads of sand are being dumped to absorb the chemicals. There were no Injuries, although three men drinking drinking in a hotel 25 feet from the railway track were surprised by a railway car which suddenly crashed into the hotel wall. Pollce said the derailment occurred at 8 p.m. Friday when an axle broke axle broke on a flat car carrying carrying logs.
Ottawa Citizen 7 February 1977
Like a Bomb
Derailed freight cars crash into Quebec hotel
By Tom Van Dusen Citizen staff writer
DALHOUSIE STATION, QUE. (Staff) It sounded like a bomb going off" when half a dozen loaded freight cars crashed into the Commercial Hotel here Friday.
"It was a miracle nobody was killed," hotel owner Bob Humenick said during the weekend as he reviewed the spectacular derailment.
Forty units of a 79-car Canadian Pacific freight train jumped the tracks at this village 30 miles northeast of Cornwall about 8.30 p.m., before the hotel filled with the usual crowd of merrymakers.
Mr. Humenick, his wife, son, and about eight patrons were in the hotel at the time. No one was injured although a hole was made in a wall "big enough to drive a truck through."
Among the cars which collided with the stone and steel structure was a tanker which ripped open, spilling its cargo of sulphur dioxide.
Specialists spent the weekend neutralizing the chemical with caustic soda. It was so powerful it ate through a section of the hotel's ashphalt parking lot.
About 15 families have been told not to use their water until it has been determined if sulphur dioxide has seeped into wells. The fire department has been supplying water in the meantime.
The derailment is the third on CP's Smiths Falls-Montreal line since last November when 20 cars of a 44-car train upset at Monkland blocking Highway 138.
Early last month, 14 cars of a 100-car train derailed at Finch, impeding highway traffic for several hours.
Cause of the Monkland accident is believed to have been a broken rail while the Finch spill was blamed on a broken axle. Friday's derailment is also being associated with a broken axle.
The Commercial Hotel squats within yards of the double tracks, a little more than a mile from the Ontario Quebec border. In fact, the first emergency vehicle on the scene was a Lancaster-based OPP cruiser.
Mr. Humenick, who has operated the hotel for 19 years, is used to the sound of rumbling freight trains. Friday night, the regular "clicke-ty clack" suddenly turned to a roar.
The owner yelled for his wife to grab their seven-year-old son and run to the rear of the building as stones pelted the windows. Then a section of boxcar burst through the wall.
At about the same time, Serge Ranger was watching the train roll by from the front window of his home which is so close to the tracks, it vibrates when trains pass.
Suddenly, a wagon broke away and veered off the tracks leading the remainder of the train. For a time derailed cars continued erect until they began to buckle, with several coming to rest against the hotel.
Mr. Ranger believes the only thing that saved his house from being demolished was high snow banks. Within minutes, about 100 people had gathered at the scene, Mr. Ranger said.
Mr. Humenick said the earliest hotel patrons usually park their cars on the road in front of the building. Friday, however, they had parked in the lot at the side of the hotel furthest away from the area of impact.
"On other nights there may have been people getting out of their cars right in line with those wagons."
He heaved a sigh of relief that the accident didn't occur last weekend when about 25 people booked into the hotel because of poor driving conditions. There were no rooms rented Friday.
The owner estimated cost of repairing the building at $100,000 minimum. He believes major structural damage was caused by the collision.
The original hotel is built of stone. Most of the damage was done to a steel section added 12 years ago.
Mr. Humenick said he doesn't anticipate any trouble collecting compensation from Canadian Pacific
He said he has no intention of leaving his home and business because of the accident. He hopes to reopen the bar early this week.
"What else is there to do? It's more dangerous to drive a car than to live beside train tracks." He knows of no previous derailment at the village.
Railway officials say it will take most of the week to clear away cars and debris. The line has been reopened for use
Ottawa Journal Monday 7 February 1977
Acid poisoning fears still real
CORNWALL (Special) Although Dalhousle Mills, Que., 25 miles east of here, has not been evacuated there are still fears inthis community of 400 that the water supply may be contaminated by acid from a 40-car derailment Friday.
Two of the derailed cars carried sulphuric acid and more than 50,000 gallons spilled on the street Friday night and all day Saturday.
Experts from Canadian Industries Ltd., In Cornwall were called to the scene and spread caustic soda and sand to soak up the acid. The acid is being trucked away in special tanker trucks. Police alsoblocked off all roads leading to the area.
Most of the damage caused by the acid so far has been confined to a hotel close to the tracks. When the train derailed one of the cars slammmed into a wall of the hotel.
As a result the frame of the hotel has been severely damaged and the balance of the building has been badly weakened .Some persons were in the hotel at the time but no one was injured.
A C P spokesman said Sunday the westbound track has been cleared and eastbotmd traffic will be accommodated by rereouting it on the westbound track through the Dalhousie station.
Passenger traffic has not been affected because no passenger trains use the line.
Work crews are continuing their efforts today to clean up wreckage caused by the derailment.
A nearby county road on the Ontario side of the border running from Highway 401 to Glen Robertson has been closed as a result of the spillage and Lancaster OPP expect It will take a number of days before it is reopened to traffic.
No damage figures are available. It Is believed a broken axle on a flat car was the cause of the derailment. This is the third derailment In the Cornwall area since November and all the derailment has been blamed on broken axles. In November last year 14 cars of a 21-car freight ran off the track at Monkland, about 10 miles north of here. Last month another freight ran off the track at Finch about 20 miles northwest of here.
There were no injuries in those derailments either.
Ottawa Citizen 7 February 1977
Water 'suspect' near acid spill
DALHOUSIE STATION, Que. (Staff) Environmental protection authorities continue to advise about 15 families here not to use their water for fear wells may become contaminated by sulphuric acid spilled during a train derailment last weekend.
The chemical was contained in a tanker which split when it jumped the Canadian Pacific Smiths Falls-Montreal line with 39 other cars. Another 39 cars remained on the track.
A second sulphuric acid container also derailed but did not break open. Several runaway wagons rammed the village's Commercial Hotel.
While most of the spilled acid has been neutralized with caustic soda, there remains a possibility of seepage into the water table.
"This could happen," Jim Spinney, manager of Canadian Industries Ltd., Cornwall, said Tuesday. A crew of CIL experts worked from Friday night to Monday morning treating the chemical which was being shipped by the company.
Several more days will be required to complete cleanup operations, a CP Rail spokesman said. Wagons remain strewn about the scene and about 1,000 feet of track has to be laid.
One of the twin tracks has been reopened with east and westbound trains using it alternately.
The accident has been blamed on a "burnt journal" broken axle on a flatcar which was transporting logs. It's the third derailment on the same line since November.
The railway spokesman said cold weather and heavier loads are possible factors in the rash of upsets.
Bob Humenick, owner of the Commercial Hotel, has reopened one of his three beverage rooms.
Mr. Humenick said it will be several months before damage - which he estimates at about $100,000 - is fully repaired.