CN Train Derailment in Giscome

DISCLAIMER: Information provided is based on reports received by Emergency Management B.C. Information provided is considered to be current at the time of posting, but is subject to change as new information becomes available.

Incident Description

Incident Date March 5, 2020
Name CN Train Derailment in Giscome (DGIR 194341)
Source Train Derailment 
Nearest Community Giscome, B.C.
Spilled Content Petroleum Coke (coal)
Who is involved? B.C. Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy, Lheidli T'enneh First Nation, Canadian National Railway, Environment and Climate Change Canada (ENV), Fraser/Fort George Regional District, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Transportation Safety Board, Ram Environmental, GHD Environmental, Triton Environmental Consultants and GFL Environmental Inc.


Response Phase Detail

The responsible person or spiller is legally required to clean-up or manage the clean-up of a spill. In incidents where the responsible person is unknown, unable or unwilling to manage the clean up, the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy (ENV) may assume the role. The updates below reflect the Ministry’s oversight of the spillers’ actions; details describe the spill response phase, only, and not the complete lifecycle of the spill. See More Information for other related reports. 

Updates are in reverse chronological order, with the most recent at the top. Industry-specific language may be explained in the Glossary of Terms (PDF).

Most Recent Update

March 16, 2020 – 2:00 pm

The transfer of the Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) tank cars has been completed and all tank cars have been purged of residual LPG (March 15, 2020).

Wrecking and salvage operations of the LPG tank cars will continue over the coming days and clean up operations of the petroleum coke are ongoing.

No additional updates are anticipated.

March 13, 2020 – 4:00 pm

Six of the seven Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) tank cars have been emptied and are waiting to be scrapped and removed from the incident site. The seventh LPG tank car has sustained significant damage and a tank specialist has arrived to the incident site to install a new valve on the tank car to off load materials safely.

The road will be closed for several hours during off-loading operations today (March 13, 2020) and tomorrow.

Further updates will be provided when new information is available. 

March 8, 2020 – 10:30 am

The transfer of Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) has begun and is expected to last several days. The CN Rail line is open and rail traffic has resumed. Rail crossing signal infrastructure has been replaced and access to the public has been restored.  Road access may be limited to single lane alternating traffic to accommodate response activities.

Environmental and water quality monitoring activities are underway.

An Environmental Emergency Response Officer (EERO) with the B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) continues to oversee response actions.

Further updates will be provided when new information is available. 

March 6, 2020 – 5:30 pm

The derailment site has been cleared of all debris and the tracks have been replaced. Road access is currently open to emergency vehicles only, with public access expected to be restored tomorrow afternoon. Highway contractors will be performing extra maintenance in the incident area to ensure safe passage of heavy equipment and to restore the local roadway.

The Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) railcars involved in the incident will begin to have their product transferred to highway transport trucks tomorrow morning (March 7, 2020). The LPG will then be hauled back to Prince George, this process is expected to last until Tuesday (March 10, 2020).

Hay creek has containment boom in place to prevent any surface material from migrating from the impact site and a silt curtain is to be installed in the creek to reduce any subsurface material escaping. Upstream and downstream water sampling took place today (March 6, 2020) to monitor any impacts to the stream.

The transportation Safety Board, B.C. Ministry of Environment Response Officers, representatives from the Lheidli T’enneh and the Regional District of Fraser Fort George were also on site today.

The B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) continues to monitor this incident with support from Environment and Climate Change Canada and will provide further updates as information becomes available.Cleared tracks at site

(March 6, 2020 - Repaired line at derailment site)

March 6, 2020 – 2:15 pm

CN responders have begun clean-up of the site including product off-loading from damaged railcars and replacing rail tracks to reopen the line. CN Rail is in direct communication with the school district and Giscome Elementary school has remained closed today as a precaution due to its proximity to the incident. Response contractors continue to arrive on site to aid in the response.

An estimated 42 tonnes of petroleum coke has spilled in the vicinity of Hay Creek. Containment boom is being mobilized to be placed in the creek to prevent possible contamination from the spilled cars. GHD Environmental has also been contracted to provide environmental monitoring and should be on scene today (March 6, 2020).

B.C. Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) staff attended the site today to monitor this incident. Environment and Climate Change Canada is supporting ENV by providing scientific advice, including advice on risks to the environment and how to mitigate them. Further updates will be provided as information becomes available.

Railway tracks with truck next to it.

(March 6, 2020 - Cleared tracks at train derailment site in Giscome)

March 5, 2020 – 4:25 pm

At 09:30 am on March 5, 2020 CN Rail reported a derailment of one of their trains in the community of Giscome, approximately 40 kilometres Northeast of Prince George. The train was made up of 27 cars carrying a mixed cargo including petroleum coke (coal), liquid petroleum gas (LPG), and methanol. As there was initially no information regarding the contents of the train, nearby Giscome Elementary School was evacuated as a precaution.

Six of the cars carrying coal were open-top and partially released content into a nearby creek which exits Eaglet Lake. An environmental assessment of impacts to the creek is currently underway. There is reported to be no release of other materials from any other cars involved in the derailment. CN Rail is on scene and has contracted GFL Environmental Inc. and Ram Environmental Response who are responding to the incident. An Environmental Emergency Response Officer (EERO) with the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy (ENV) was on site today (March 5, 2020).

Lheidli T'enneh First Nation and Fraser/Fort George Regional District have been made aware of this incident.

Updates will be provided as information becomes available.

Rail cars on side at Giscome

(March 5, 2020 - Coal rail cars on side at Giscome)

Incident Location