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Derailment leads to evacuations

Nearly a dozen people were evacuated from a rural area north of aCalgary bedroom community as a precaution after a train carryinganhydrous ammonia derailed yesterday morning.

Nearly a dozen people were evacuated from a rural area north of a Calgary bedroom community as a precaution after a train carrying anhydrous ammonia derailed yesterday morning.

But police said none of the potentially toxic gas was leaking and an evacuation alert for two subdivisions and a mall on the northern outskirts of Airdrie was lifted.

Eight cars were carrying ammonia and the others were a combination of flatbed units and grain cars, said Ken Hubbard, Airdrie’s assistant fire chief. Five cars were on their side.

Hubbard said hazardous materials teams were on site along with firefighters. Air and weather conditions were being monitored.

CP spokesman Mike LoVecchio couldn’t estimate how long the cleanup would take.

The southbound train derailed shortly after 7 a.m. in the rolling farm and ranch country near the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Anhydrous ammonia is commonly used in nitrogen fertilizer. It is a colourless gas, but when released from tanks in high concentrations, it looks like dense steam.

Short exposure to low concentrations will not cause serious damage, but at higher levels it has a pungent odour and will sting and irritate the nose, throat and eyes. It can become dangerous if not handled correctly.

 
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