Monday, 23 March 2015


It was a bit nippy this Sunday March 22, this year’s World Water Day. Twenty-eight people showed up to mark the WWD at the CP railway tracks that skirt Ramsey Lake, Sudbury’s pre-eminent water supply. Elaine Porter (Laurentian U.) who is the Sudbury Chapter’s lead on water campaigns organized the rally that welcomed Richard Eberhardt (Federal NDP riding), Lilly Noble (Ramsey Lake Stewardship Committee and the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury) and David Robinson (Laurentian U. and Green Party activist). Members of the Aboriginal community and media representatives also joined us. Regrettably, none of the city’s Council members attended despite repeated invitations.

The speakers talked about the threats to our local waters that included the Gogama Train disaster, the Wahnapitae river train crash, clear cutting at Geneva Lake and Sioux Narrows, the Lac Megantic rail disaster and the high risk of such disasters with the CP rail line skirting Ramsey Lake. The gathering also recognized the global threats to water that are leaving millions in dire, critical need of drinkable water.

The day’s event actually started the previous Tuesday with members of the Sudbury Chapter (Wayne Paulk, Patrick McCoy and Andre Clement) visiting the Gogama CN derailment site to learn about the cleanup from the near-miss accident at Gogama that could have been another Lac Megantic. That same trip included a visit to Geneva Lake to talk to the local folks concerned about the clear cutting scheduled around the lake’s watershed.

The Sudbury Chapter rally was one of many such events cross Canada and the world as people joined to make note of the earth’s water issues.

Cold as it was, the day was sunny and children of the First Nations who sang a song for the occasion very nicely wrapped up the event.  There was a call for City Council to undertake an intended watershed study and, hopefully, to relocate the rail line away from Ramsey Lake.

Media Coop article by Naomi Grant

SUDBURY STAR article by Carol Mulligan

CTV News Northern Ontario by Gord Nichols

The following handout was distributed at the Rally.

UN WATER DAY, MARCH 22, 2015 (hosted by the Council of Canadians)
                 Threats to Water Quality in Northern Ontario and Sources of Information
1. Our Addiction to Oil has us going down many slippery slopes.  With increasing concerns over oil spills, how likely is a catastrophic train derailment along Lake Ramsey?
Train derailments piling up near Gogama:
  •  Feb. 15, 2015: CN train pulling 100 rail tanker cars had 29 cars leave the track and 7 caught fire; each tanker car can contain up to 20,000 gallons of crude oil.  The smoke went in a south-west direction away from Gogama and Mattagami First Nation up to 100 kilometers away and clean-up continues in the rivers. 
   • March 7, 2015:30 tankers crash and burn 3 kilometers from town center - a near miss of a Lac Megantic type of disaster in which 47 people died and that will require oil clean-up for the next 3 to 5 years costing at least $400 million; even though these were tankers improved post 2011 they still punctured and caught on fire; all old cars will be allowed to run until 2017 (80,000 tankers in NA).
The Wahnapitae Train Derailment: aging infrastructure & inadequate monitoring:
The Transportation Safety Board found the 12 car bodies and 20 containers derailed due to an aging roller bearing cage which overheated a ball bearing; no safety guidelines had been violated.  Dangerous goods were contained but the bridge was severely damaged. 
Other evidence: Globe & Mail, Eric Atkins, Feb. 24, 2015: Since 2005, the TSB said, rail defects missed in tests have caused several derailments involving dangerous goods; a 2011 incident near Alix Junction, Alta. spilled 900 litres of phosphoric acid..
Decrease our reliance on fossil fuels and re-strengthen the Navigable Waters Protection Act  (Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury); Citizens Climate Lobby; Blue Dot David Suzuki project:
Move the rail lines: Imagine Sudbury Susan Thompson 560-0963
Stop the transportation of dangerous goods through Greater Sudbury. Railroads are allowed to keep information from the general public on which hazardous goods travel through the community. Railroads are mandated by government to haul dangerous goods.
Need for strengthened safety measures and increased governmental oversight but railroad companies get to set their own standards based on its risk assessment which remain private. The Transportation Safety Board of Canada only oversees the industry standards.
Increased Insurance does not a substitute for prevention and how much is enough? In its refusal to release its own analyses of potential disaster costs in Canada, Transport Canada cites commercial confidentiality.
The proposed Energy East Pipeline which would cut across northern Ontario carrying diluted bitumen in former retrofitted natural gas lines poses risks to the environment. For example, in the Englehart accident on Sept. 12, 2009, there was a fire and loss of 3,420,000 cubic metres of natural gas.  Regular inspections had been done but with an improper inspection tool not designed to identify the stress corrosion cracking in the longitudinal seam weld which caused the accident (Transportation Safety Board; for more info., go to
2. Pollution of Waters due to clearcutting run-off and use of glyphosates
--- Geneva Lake area clearcutting threatens Dowes Lake and the Spanish River
--- Grassy Narrows faces the same prospects with the threat of mercury poisoning.
3. The Ramsey Lake watershed study results need to be used for decision-making on all watershed, lakeside and on-lake activities, including stormwater management (Ramsey Lake Stewardship Committee; Greater Sudbury Watershed Alliance).

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