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Calgary mayor blasts CP Rail over bridge failure

June 27, 2013, Calgary – Calgary's mayor says he has a lot of serious questions for CP Rail after a bridge across the Bow River failed and train cars carrying oil products derailed.

June 27, 2013
By The Canadian Press

June 27, 2013, Calgary – Calgary's mayor says he has a lot of serious questions for CP Rail after a bridge across the Bow River failed and train cars carrying oil products derailed.

Naheed Nenshi says he has concerns about the timing of the last inspection on the bridge done by CP Rail and the fact railways are exempt from municipal regulations.

Railways are under federal jurisdiction and are responsible for their own inspections.

"Certainly once this crisis is over, I'll be looking for a lot of answers from a lot of people," he said Thursday at an update on the bridge collapse.

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"When was that bridge inspected? Why was it not inspected after Saturday? Remember on Saturday the Bow River was still running higher than anyone had ever seen in their lifetimes," Nenshi said.

CP Rail issued a statement Thursday that said the bridge had been inspected on Saturday and the tracks on Monday.

"I'll be very blunt. I'll probably get in trouble for saying this. We've seen a lot of people lose their jobs at CP over the last year. How many bridge inspectors did they fire?"

Nenshi said railways are private companies and it's been a point of contention for municipalities who are powerless to regulate them.

"I will tell you that this has been a constant frustration for every municipal politician in this country forever."

Rail carriers aren't even subject to city noise bylaws, he said.

"We have to have a serious conversation about this. This is a private business and other private businesses are subject to (municipal) regulation."

The mayor said the bridge in question is old and was not built into the bedrock – "something I didn't know until today" – whereas all the city's bridges are. He said all the municipal bridges had been inspected three times since the flood and were solid.

As Nenshi spoke, emergency crews were undertaking a delicate operation to secure the derailed cars and empty them before they fell into the water.

Officials have not said whether the collapse was related to the heavy flooding Calgary has experienced in recent days.