HAMILTON TOWNSHIP — A Northumberland County farmer whose property was contaminated by a CN rail accident in Port Hope in 2011 is considering legal action against CN railway.
Former dairy farmer turned cash crop farmer Harris McKeen owns 117 acres in Hamilton Township. An eight-acre section of his property was contaminated after the 2011 CN derailment, which saw families from 20 different households evacuated from the area.
McKeen recalled the pileup of train cars on his property, not to mention the three years afterwards that people were on his property cleaning up debris and spilled fuel.
The contaminated area on his farm was cleaned up by a contractor hired by CN. But the contractor left garbage, including wood, rocks, steel and other debris, on the land, McKeen said. “They didn’t bother screening the land that they were replacing. So, it basically came from scraping land from a subdivision site and then just putting it on my property.”
Efforts to reach out to CN to reach a settlement were not successful, he said. “It’s very difficult, dealing with large corporations. And of course, nobody likes to volunteer to take responsibility.”
McKeen told Farmers Forum that he had been hopeful for a settlement with CN, but so far all of their offers of compensation were well below the $281,000 he estimated it would cost him to clean up the land himself. That has him considering legal action. “Hopefully that won’t take another six years,” he said.