Coal train derailment near Ashcroft, B.C., causes water contamination

Coal train derailment causes water contamination

ASHCROFT, B.C. — A health authority in British Columbia says a recent train derailment that spilled coal into the Thompson River near Ashcroft has made water unsafe for consumption.

Canadian Pacific Railway has said 29 cars on a westbound freight train derailed Thursday afternoon, and while no cars ended up in the river, some of the coal it was carrying did spill into the water.

Interior Health medical officer Dr. Kamran Golmohammadi says both the coal and the chemicals used to wash the coal before it was transported poses a threat to the water supply.

He says the concern is that ingesting any contaminants from the coal can cause gastrointestinal irritation.

The health authority warns that anyone within 50 kilometres downstream from the spill should not drink from the river, and boiling water will not remove potential contaminants.

The health authority says it expects results from water testing to be available by Monday, and it will update the public on the quality of the water.

Golmohammadi says the secondary concern, which will take months to determine, is whether any contaminants have bioaccumulated in the fish in the river.

CP Rail has said boats, booms and environmental equipment have been brought in to clean up the coal.

(CHNL, The Canadian Press)

The Canadian Press