CN to pay $1.8M for derailments in B.C. and Alberta
Source: By Scott Simpson, Vancouver Sun
Published: May 25th 2009

CN Rail will pay $1.8 million in fines for environmental damage as a result of derailments in British Columbia and Alberta in 2005, the railway announced Monday.

CN pleaded guilty to charges under the Fisheries Act, and will pay $400,000 as a consequence of a derailment that wiped out fish populations in the Cheakamus River near Squamish when caustic soda spilled into the river from an overturned freight car.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada gets $350,000 of that fine, for programs promoting the conservation of fish and fish habitat in B.C.

Most of the money, $1.4 million, goes to similar programs in Alberta, reflecting the greater magnitude of a derailment and oil spill at Wabamun Lake.

"These programs, designated by the provincial and federal governments with CN's input, will support the prevention and remediation of future environmental incidents, both rail and non-rail related," the railway said in a press release.

"In addition, CN will continue to work with provincial and federal authorities to further enhance its emergency response plans and to partner with those authorities in environmental sensitivity mapping of bodies of water along its rail lines in B.C. and Alberta.

"These settlements are focused on the future and on what's best for the environment," CN president and CEO Hunter Harrison said in the release. "CN will continue to strengthen Emergency Response procedures, while maintaining its commitment to do everything in its power to prevent accidents from occurring."

The fines are separate from programs previously launched by CN in the wake of the spills.

CN and its insurers have so far spent $132 million to clean up the lake and compensate affected stakeholders.

In B.C., CN has implemented a $7.3 million, 10-year stream rehabilitation system.