Collapsing bridge in Calgary derails train

Associated Press

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) -- A train has derailed on a Calgary rail bridge that is collapsing, threatening to send five rail cars carrying a diesel-like substance into the Bow River, acting Fire Chief Ken Uzeloc said Thursday.

The train derailed after a section of the bridge dropped two feet (60 centimeters) Thursday morning. Emergency management director Bruce Burrell the bridge is not in the water but is slowly sagging into the river.

"The bridge is continuing to drop as we speak, so that distance between the failure point and where the bridge decking is, is starting to open up more," said Burrell.

"It appears that the bridge is failing."

Each car could have 80,000 pounds (36,000 kilograms) of flammable product, said Uzeloc, adding that he could not specify the liquid. A sixth car on the bridge is an empty oil tanker, he said.

Canadian Pacific spokesman Ed Greenberg said the bridge gave way after most of the eastbound train had crossed.

"The (derailed cars) are all upright," he said. "There are no leaks reported and no injuries reported as a result of the incident."

The bridge, southeast of downtown Calgary, typically sits about 25 feet (7.6 meters) above water level, though water levels remain high after last week's flood.

Emergency crews are working to string a cable through the railcars to secure it to bulldozers on land to prevent the cars from being carried down the river in case the bridge gives way.

Uzeloc said crews then hope to pull another train along a parallel bridge so the cargo can be pumped off and the empty cars can be removed with a crane.

"The thing we want to do is secure the cars. The last thing we want is these cars floating down the river and causing problems downstream," Uzeloc said.

Booms are being deployed down river in case of any spills.

Both the Bow and Elbow rivers that run through Calgary burst their banks when heavy rain pounded southern regions of Alberta last week.

Canadian Pacific said the bridge was inspected by a qualified inspector on Saturday and the track was inspected on Monday. Additional inspections were scheduled.

Officials said it was too early to say whether the structural failure was specifically due to flooding.