June 19, 2018
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Sparse population, frozen ground spared Plaster Rock from major disaster, contractor says

By Michael Staples, The Daily Gleaner

PLASTER ROCK, New Brunswick – Richard Nadon knows train wrecks.

The veteran railway worker has been responding to disasters for more years than he cares to remember.

Last summer, he was on the ground in Lac-Mégantic, Que., after a derailment there resulted in a massive explosion that killed 47 people.

This week he’s in Plaster Rock to help clean the mess from a similar but non-fatal accident that occurred near that community Tuesday.

A CN freight train moving through the area with 122 cars saw 17 of leave the rail as the result of a yet to be determined cause. Five had crude while the others were carrying butane and propane.

A fire broke out causing the evacuation of between 150-200 people.

An investigation is underway.

The derailment occurred Tuesday just before 7 p.m. near Longley Road in Wapske, north of Plaster Rock.

Officials with CN Rail said it’s too early to comment on what may have caused the accident.

Nadon, who works for Perkan Inc., a contractor from Montreal, said the derailment here is not that terrible.

“It’s not as bad (as Lac-Mégantic),” he said. “It’s not in a town.”

Nadon said residents of Plaster Rock shouldn’t be that concerned about the fire or spillage.

With regard to the latter, he said, the ground is all frozen and it would be difficult to absorb anything that spilled.

While the incident is hard for village residents to deal with now, it won’t stay with them forever, he said.

“It’s hard to say what goes through people’s heads, but they will get over it,” Nadon said.

Long-time Plaster Rock resident Henry Pelletier said the situation over the last 24 hours has left him a little nervous.

But, he said, he is not all that surprised by what occurred.

“I have been waiting for it to happen,” Pelletier said. “You can walk along tracks at any place and find a piece of metal from trains.”

His wife Nancy Pelletier agreed.

She said her son is an engineer on a train and she had concerns last year that he may have been involved in the Lac-Mégantic tragedy.

“I have been nervous for a while,” she said. “Since then, I have been thinking of my son.”

But, Nancy Pelletier said a person spending their time living in fear that something might happen.

Nadon, meanwhile, said he is anxious to get the scene of the Tuesday night mishap.

The veteran clean up worker said once the site is cleared to go into, it won’t take long to clean up the wreckage.

“Once we get there, it will take two days at the most,” Nadon said. “But, depending on safety issues (and) the environment, it could be three days.”

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