Last year disaster struck the Canadian city of Lac-Mégantic when a train carrying light crude oil derailed in the town centre. The resulting explosion and fire destroyed 40 buildings and killed 47 people. As thousands of gallons of petroleum spilled into the Chaudière River, Xylem was called in to arrange an emergency bypass for an alternative drinking water source.
The accident occurred shortly after midnight on Saturday July 6, 2013, and sent an explosion with a one-kilometre blast radius through the town centre. The explosion and fires destroyed half of the town centre and approximately 2,000 people had to be evacuated.
The 72-car freight train had also rolled over and began leaking crude oil into the lakes and rivers surrounding the municipality. The petroleum floating on the surface of the river thus flowed with the current towards the only water intake for the town of Lévis that supplies the Charny/Saint-Romuald area.
About 200 kilometers downstream from the accident, the City of Lévis – with a population of 142,000 people – knew they had to act quickly to find a new drinking water source before the polluted water reached them. The town had no more than 36-48 hours to find a solution before the entire drinking water system was contaminated.
The Lac-Mégantic derailment
Early on Sunday, July 7, the City of Lévis mobilized the city’s Civil Security Emergency response to major oil spill saves city’s water supply Organization to plan an alternate raw water source to feed their drinking water station in Charny which serves a large area of the Chutes-de-la-Chaudière East borough and the entire Chutes-de-la- Chaudière West borough.
At 4:30 p.m. Yves Rousseau, Infrastructure Technician from the City of Lévis, placed the emergency service call to Xylem and was put in touch with the mechanic on duty. A few phone calls later, Xylem’s Quebec City dewatering force in collaboration with Xylem’s Montreal office, had made plans for one of its largest water bypasses ever.