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Quebec adds to problems for U.S. firms at centre of disaster

July 29, 2013, Lac-Megantic, Que. – The legal noose continues to tighten around companies connected to the deadly Quebec rail derailment.

July 29, 2013
By Olivia D'Orazio

July 29, 2013, Lac-Megantic, Que. – The legal noose continues to tighten around companies connected to the deadly Quebec rail derailment.

The Quebec government issued a legal notice today demanding that two U.S. petroleum firms and the railway involved in the Lac-Megantic crash foot the entire bill to clean up and restore the local environment.

Environment Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet says the July 6 tanker-train derailment that released 5.7 million litres of crude oil into the air, soil and water is perhaps the province's worst-ever environmental disaster.

The companies named in the lawyer's letter are Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway, Western Petroleum Company and World Fuel Services.

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All three firms are already facing several wrongful-death lawsuits in the U.S. linked to the disaster – while the embattled MMA is also named in a proposed class-action suit.

The town of Lac-Megantic sent MMA a legal notice last week, calling on it to reimburse the municipality $4 million after the company allegedly failed in its duty to pay cleanup workers.

The Maine-based railway asked the town to wait until Tuesday for its response to the legal notice.

The derailment and subsequent explosions killed an estimated 47 people and levelled dozens of buildings in the community's downtown core.

Blanchet says Quebec taxpayers will not be forced to pick up the tab for the massive environmental mop-up and rehabilitation.

He insists the province will take necessary legal action if the companies don't pay up.