A Unique Security Risk
Is it "bleeding red ink" too as is our airport apparently since it is facing huge drops in traffic and revenues? I am not sure that there is a plan yet to correct the problem especially since no one seemingly has been hired who will "breathe" the Tunnel business (but not the air from theTunnel Ventilation building exhaust I hope).
Now that Bill C-3 has passed, the Tunnel has a major problem which Transport Canada can no longer ignore. It must act even if it may mean as a last resort closing down the Tunnel unless a viable alternative is suggested!
Think I am overstating the case...Check out this story from the past.
Windsor Star 12-20-2000
By: Veronique Mandal Star Staff Reporter
DETROIT-- Hundreds of workers were evacuated in downtown Detroit Tuesday afternoon when a CSX train carrying flammable material from Canada became stuck in the CN tunnel beneath the Detroit River.
Detroit fire officials received word at about noon from Canadian rail managers that a CSX train, carrying butane and propane, was stuck in the tunnel and were asked for help in case of an explosion.
From what CSX could tell, there had been some type of mechanical breakdown, probably involving the train's brakes.
Rail and fire officials initially feared some of the 43 cars on the train may have ruptured, leaking the gas.
"The potential for a disaster was there because there are hundreds of people working in the buildings directly on top of the tunnel and if those tanks had gone up it would have been terrible," said Tyrone Scott, deputy fire commissioner for Detroit.
"We treated this as a potentially major disaster. Even one car filled with propane going up would be disastrous. The situation was very volatile and with everything being confined to a narrow tube like a tunnel, we had to take all precautions, which is why we evacuated the whole area."
Mike Whelan, a worker at John Johnson Co., was glad to be leaving the area.
"The fire officials came in to see the boss and the next thing we knew we were being told to immediately go to our cars and go home," said Whelan. "We were told there was a derailment and a propane spill so we got out of there."
Emergency workers kept well back from the entrance to the tunnel where only the blue and yellow nose of the engine could be seen. They were waiting for information from CSX on the contents and status of the cars before deciding what action, if any, was required by them.
According to CN spokesman Ian Thompson, CSX sent engines into the tunnel in an attempt to haul some of the cars off the back end of the train and out on the Canadian side of the tunnel.
"For some reason that didn't work so CSX sent special inspectors into the tunnel to do an on site inspection, checking for gas leaks and discovered that the problem was caused by a malfunction in the air system on the train," said Thompson.
"Air controls the brakes and if there is a breach in the system, there's a safety feature that causes all the brakes to come on and the train makes an automatic emergency stop," Thompson said. "The only way to get the train out is to pump air back up into the system so that the brakes will disengage."
The rail tunnel is about 1,600 metres long and the stopped train spanned about 1,300 metres of it.
Removed at 5 p.m.
Thompson said it isn't often that trains get stuck in the tunnel, but there have been occasions when CP has tried to run trains through which have been too wide. CSX officials were able to remove the train at about 5 p.m., but expected it would take several more hours before the tunnel would be re-opened.
Because of the incident, dozens of trains, mostly belonging to CSX and CP, were backed up. Many of them were being held in Toronto, creating long delays and playing havoc with the schedules, according to CSX officials.
CN operations were not affected, said Thompson.