Clean-up underway after train derailment in central Kingston closes major roadway

A view of the area where the bridge collapsed under the spur line that serves Invista, which cause a train derailment on the morning of Friday, May 5, 2023. Photo by Cody Stafford-Arenburg/Kingstonist.

Update (Friday, May 5, 2023, at 4:30 p.m.):
Clean-up efforts are now underway after a train derailment in central Kingston earlier today.

According to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MECP), “CN Rail is the responsible party and has retained a clean-up contractor and environmental consultant who are expected to arrive at the site this afternoon.” In fact, that contractor was already on site and actively working well before 4 p.m., with a boat in the water to further assess the situation by 3:50 p.m.

“Currently, there is no known threat to human health and no expected impacts to drinking water. The Ministry has notified the municipality and their water plants as a precaution. The Kingston Fire Department has deployed booms at the outlet to Lake Ontario,” MECP said in response to Kingstonist inquiries.

“Ministry environmental officers are at the site to assess environmental conditions and follow up with the parties involved to ensure that all appropriate steps are being taken to contain any spilled material and mitigate any environmental impacts.”

Kingstonist has reached out to CN Rail, but has not received response as of 4:30 p.m.

Road closures in the area are expected to remain in place throughout the evening (see below for detour map and information on changes to Kingston Transit routes)

A train derailment in the marshy area just north of Bath Road near Armstrong Road on the morning of Friday, May 5, 2023, has closed down roadways in the area. Photo by Cody Stafford/Kingstonist.

Update (Friday, May 5, 2023, at 3:30 p.m.):
Bath Road remains closed between Queen Mary and Armstrong Roads following a train derailment earlier today. The City of Kingston has provided detours for evening traffic, and is asking drivers to avoid the area and instead detour along either Centennial Road or Sir John A. Macdonald Boulevard.

Transit updates and detours can be found on Kingston Transit’s Twitter. For updates, follow Kingston Police on Twitter.

The City of Kingston is asking drivers to take the detours highlighted during their evening commutes. Image via the City of Kingston.

Kingston Fire and Rescue (KFR) stated that while a hazardous materials hot zone was set up as a precaution, the area is still undergoing assessment, and at this point, no serious leaks have been discovered.

“Officials from the Ontario Environment Ministry are now on scene,” KFR stated. “Emergency Management with the City of Kingston says evacuation of nearby homes is not required because substances being assessed on scene do not have an airborne risk or hazard.”

Kingston Fire & Rescue, Kingston Police, personnel from the INVISTA plant and CN remain at the site. According to KFR, crew from CN is supporting clean-up efforts. 

Update (Friday, May 5, 2023, at 1 p.m.):
Just after noon, Brad Joyce, Commissioner of Transportation and Public Works for the City of Kingston, provided an update on the train derailment situation just north of Bath Road.

Joyce confirmed that the train was headed to Invista and, in fact, the cars were being pushed southbound, backing the train into the Invista property. Five of those cars derailed due to an apparent collapse of the rail bridge, and two of those cars have ended up in the water.

According to Joyce, the tanker cars on the 12-car train were hauling two chemicals “that are used in processes at Invista.” The other cars on the train were empty at the time of the derailment, he said.

“We’ve identified that we don’t want them going into the water. At this point in time, there does not appear to be any major leaks or even minor leaks that we can tell. There may be a little bit of creosote in the water, just from the rail ties that have broken and [were] part of the collapse of the bridge there,” Joyce explained.

“At this point, we’ve set up a boom as a precaution. We may set up additional booms, but right now we’re satisfied that it’s stable. We have CN on scene and they’re sending in a crew from Toronto to assess and look at how they’re going to rectify the derailment.”

In terms of the history of derailments in the area, Joyce said that the last derailment was on the south side of Bath Road (in 2020), and that he expects the process that occurred then to be carried out again.

“I think that, again, those things are going to be looked at by CN very closely, the last derailment that we had was on the south side of Bath Road and that was repaired. I expect they’re going to take the same types of measures as before and look into the integrity of that bridge and determine what needs to occur there to make it safe,” Joyce said.

While authorities have not said there is any risk to public safety, drivers and pedestrians are being asked to avoid the area as crews tend to the derailment over the coming hours and possibly days. Though the City is “always concerned about any type of derailment,” both the City and Invista are familiar with the chemicals that are used by the plant, and in have plans in place to handle them, Joyce said.

Meanwhile, Kingston Transit has detoured routes through the area as a result of the derailment. Residents can follow Kingston Transit on Twitter for the most up to date notifications regarding any changes to bus routes.

Original article (Friday, May 5, 2023, at 11:15 a.m.):
A train derailment in an area of Kingston that’s no stranger to such incidents led to the closure of some major roadways in the central part of the city on the morning of Friday, May 5, 2023.

At approximately 10:35 a.m., at least three cars of a freight train travelling on the rail line that crosses Bath Road near Armstrong Road derailed, one of which ended up in the waters of the marshy area. Kingston Fire and Rescue and Kingston Police immediately responded to the scene, where no injuries were reported. It is unclear if any leaks are occurring from the derailed cars, however, it appears at least some of the cars were hauling hexamethylenediamine, an organic compound often used in the manufacturing of plastics. Although hexamethylenediamine is considered hazardous – the compound is corrosive to skin and eyes and can lead to tightness in breathing – emergency responders continued to survey the scene without any protective gear, indicating that there appears to be no immediate threat to those in the area.

While there is no risk to the public at this time, a hazmat perimeter has been set up around the derailment site.

Emergency responders outside the hazmat zone north of Bath Road. Photo by Cody Stafford/Kingstonist.

“We are aware of the train derailment on Bath Road between Queen Mary Road and Armstrong Road,” Kingston Police said in an email at approximately 11 a.m.

“We are currently advising the public of a road closure on Bath Road in both directions between Queen Mary Road and Armstrong Road.  We are also advising the public to avoid the area of the tracks between Armstrong Road and Queen Mary Road out of precaution and to allow emergency crews to respond to the incident without any interference.”

Police said they would continue to communicate updates with the public, and thanked members of the community in advance for their patience. Kingston Fire and Rescue could not immediately respond to inquiries, as the investigation into the derailment – which appears to the lay person to have been caused by a collapse in the rail bridge – is in the preliminary stages.

This is not the first time a train has derailed in the area. In 2020, a derailment on the same line in the area led to days of clean up and investigation.

Kingstonist will continue to provide updates on this situation as more information becomes available.

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