|Ottawa Citizen 25 May 1987|
Freight train derails in Smiths Falls area
Eight cars of a 78-car freight train, including two carrying chemicals, derailed near Smiths Falls Saturday when roller bearings overheated inside the axle assembly of the 12th car.
The hot bearings caused the axle to seize, said Jim Barlow, CP Rail spokesman. CP Rail investigators are now examining the bearings to find out what caused them to overheat.
Possible causes include manufacturing defects or dirt that somehow got inside the sealed bearing assembly, Barlow said.
Hazardous chemicals did not leak from the two cars. Three cars and about 100 metres of track were damaged in the accident.
Two flat cars were carrying three cargo containers loaded with steel drums of resin most often used in varnishes, ink, adhesives and other paint and plastic products, said Serge Bastien, environment officer for the Spills Action Centre of the Ontario Ministry of Environment.
Bastien said the resin is explosive and flammable and could produce poisonous or irritating vapor or corrosive gases.
But a centre inspector found none of the containers had been pierced or damaged, Bastien said.
"The containers also remained upright, though they were at an angle," he said.
It's not known exactly how much resin was in the containers.
"The whole thing was approached very carefully," Bastien said. The centre was called in about 2 p.m. Saturday by the Smiths Falls fire department.
Gerry Lepage, of the Canadian Transport Commission, also said the chemical containers were not damaged or leaking.
"I don't expect any problems in that area," said Lepage, who was on the scene Saturday.
The commission is responsible for the clean-up and investigation of train wrecks. In addition, it monitors all dangerous commodities transported by rail.
The containers, which also contained auto parts, flooring tiles and paper products, had been loaded in Montreal and were bound for Detroit. The train was moving at about 50 kilometres an hour and was slowing for a scheduled stop at the Smiths Falls rail yard to change crews when the cars derailed at Lome Street, just north of the city limits.
A 100-metre section of track, which is the main freight line between Montreal and Toronto, was torn up.
Workers had the line open again by 4 a.m. Sunday, Barlow said. Trains bypassed the wreck on a section of temporary track installed at the accident site.
The damaged eastbound track has been restored and the westbound track was to be fixed by 4 p.m. today, Barlow said.
No other trains were delayed by the accident. VIA Rail passenger trains do not use the main freight line near Smiths Falls.
Special cranes brought in from Montreal and Toronto put five cars back on the rails by midday Sunday and a sixth later in the day.
The other two cars were to be cleared from the site by noon today, said Barlow.
CP Rail will not reveal the cost of damage caused by the derailment.