by Andru McCracken

An aerial view of the track close to where the derailment took place on January 2, workers move replacement ties into position. /SUBMITTED

A derailment at Moose Lake January 2nd had its biggest impact on the rail carrier itself. CN Rail had to replace more than 1500 railroad ties along a stretch of track in Mount Robson Park according to Jonathan Abecassis, a spokesperson for CN. He said a single car derailed but stayed upright.

“The wheels left the track, it didn’t spill or tip over or anything,” he said. “It’s a single car that derailed upright, which just means that the wheels left the track.”

Abecassis said it was carrying a byproduct of the oil refining process, called petroleum coke, or petcoke, in the industry.

Petcoke is a common industrial product used in cement, glue, asphalt and more.

“There was no spillage of the actual Petco outside of the car. Nothing left the car. The only damage was to CN’s track,” he said.

A 2013 paper on the potential hazards of petcoke reported that it is essentially chemically inert.

“… it may contain limited amounts of elemental forms of sulfur, metals and non-volatile inorganic compounds. Petcoke is essentially chemically inert. Petcoke exposure is considered to pose few human health or environmental risks, but may present significant nuisance concerns,” according to a research paper called

Petroleum Coke: Industry and Environmental Issues, which was written for the Congressional Research Service (US).

Abecassis said CN was fortunate that there is double track along the length of the derailment, so their train movements were not affected and the track was close to being repaired the following day.

“Our train movements were not affected at all,” he said. “The track is currently being repaired, and should be done shortly.”

He said there were no injuries no impact to the environment and no danger to public safety.

According to a witness on site, the train in question was carrying a ‘fair amount’ of dangerous goods, including cars of non-odorized liquified natural gas.