The final report into a 2019 train derailment that spilled hundreds of thousands of litres of oil near St. Lazare still hasn’t been released approximately a year after it was originally scheduled to be completed.
The Rural Municipality of Ellice-Archie, where the derailment happened, "hasn’t heard a peep about it," Reeve Barry Lowes told the Sun on Friday afternoon.
"We haven’t got any correspondence whatsoever," he said.
On Feb. 16, 2019, 37 railcars carrying crude oil derailed and crashed in the countryside near St. Lazare. Investigators said at the time the train was rolling east at 79 km/h when it experienced a "train-initiated emergency brake application."
St. Lazare is approximately a two-hour drive northwest of Brandon, near the Saskatchewan border.
Fourteen cars ruptured, spilling a combined 820,000 litres of oil. The incident happened in the middle of the winter and crews built a berm around the spill to contain the oil. At the time, there was concern the oil could spill into the Assiniboine River, but it was all recovered.
The investigation is currently in the report phase, according to the last update on the TSB’s website, from March 2021. In this stage, a confidential draft report is approved by the TSB and sent to those involved. They can then review the report before it is made public.
A release date for the final report has not been scheduled. Originally it was due 600 days after the incident, in late 2020, which spokesperson Alex Fournier said at the time was not a firm deadline.
Lowes speculates the delay in releasing the report could be because of pandemic-related slowdowns, but the answer is unclear.
The Sun reached out to the Transportation Safety Board on Friday morning for more details but did not receive a response by press time.
The investigation is a class two investigation, which means it is complex and involves "several safety issues requiring in-depth analysis," according to the safety board. Class 2 investigations are generally completed within 600 days, the board says, which would have been in late 2020.
According to the Transportation Safety Board’s summary of the incident, seven of the derailed cars were chosen for a more detailed analysis. Samples from the cars were sent to the board’s laboratory in Ottawa for further scrutiny.
"A number of wheel sets from the derailed cars were visually examined, documented and released back to the railway. Various track components recovered from the site were sent to the TSB Engineering Laboratory for failure analysis," the summary reads.
Class 2 investigations typically result in the board making safety recommendations.
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