Derailed oil train sparks fire, evacuation

Last updated 16:31 08/01/2014

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A train carrying propane and crude oil has derailed in the eastern Canadian province New Brunswick, causing a fire and the evacuation of local residents, but there were no reports of injuries, according to officials.

The Canadian National Railway train, which carried ''dangerous goods'' including propane and crude oil, derailed near the village of Plaster Rock at about 7pm Tuesday local time NZT midday Wednesday), according to Jim Feeny, director of public and government affairs at CN. An unknown number of cars were involved.

This latest derailment comes a little more than a week after a train carrying crude oil in the booming oil state of North Dakota derailed and exploded.

A series of explosive derailments has reignited the push for tougher regulation as a boom in US oil production has drastically increased the number of oil trains moving across the continent as pipelines fail to keep up with growing supply.

The derailment in New Brunswick happened about 6km east of the village of about 1000 in a mainly wooded area, according to Sharon DeWitt, emergency measures coordinator for Plaster Rock. As a precaution, the few homes in the 2km area around the derailment site have been evacuated.

DeWitt said fire officials say the cars appear to have been mostly empty except for some propane residue, and are burning.

''They'll in all probability burn themselves out by morning,'' said DeWitt.

''We'll monitor it.''

She said the wind is blowing out of the west, so there's no concern of fumes coming into the village.

Feeney said CN is still assessing the situation, and cannot say if propane or crude oil cars are derailed or are involved in the fire.

There have been five major accidents in the past year involving a train carrying crude oil. The most devastating occurred in Quebec in July last year, when a train derailed and exploded in the town of Lac Megantic, killing 47.

Some politicians have called for a phase-out or retrofit of old tankers that do not meet current safety standards and are prone to puncture.

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- Reuters

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