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Report into Lac-Megantic tragedy to be released Tuesday

Aug. 19, 2014, Lac-Megantic, Que. - The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is to release its final report Tueday on the catastrophic train derailment in Lac-Megantic in 2013.

August 19, 2014
By The Canadian Press

The disaster claimed 47 lives, destroyed a swath of the community’s
downtown and spewed millions of litres of crude oil into the
environment.

It was sparked when a runaway train owned by
Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway careened into the town shortly
after 1 a.m. and jumped the tracks, exploding into fireballs that were
spotted by satellites in space.

People are still being treated for post-traumatic stress, while
efforts to rebuild are still underway in the aftermath of what the
safety board described as potentially the worst disaster of its type in
Canadian history.

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In May, the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Canada
Co. and three of its employees were charged by Quebec prosecutors with
47 counts of criminal negligence causing death.

The accused are train engineer Thomas Harding, railway traffic
controller Richard Labrie and Jean Demaitre, manager of train
operations.

Class-action lawsuits are pending and there are also demands for an independent inquiry.

The
TSB said at the time of the derailment it would take months to
investigate but took the unusual step about two weeks later of
recommending immediate changes to rail safety.

It urged that dangerous goods should not be left unattended on a main track and that rail equipment be properly secured.

Transport
Canada issued directives on July 23, 2013, that at least two crew
members must work on trains that carry dangerous goods and that no
locomotive attached to one or more tank cars carrying dangerous goods
can be left unattended on a main track.

The Lac-Megantic train had
been left unattended by its sole crewman, its engineer, while he rested
for the night at a nearby hotel. Early reports said the train’s brakes
became disabled, allowing it to roll into the town.

The TSB said last year as its investigation progressed that the crude
oil carried by the train was as volatile as gasoline but had been
labelled as a less-dangerous product similar to diesel or bunker crude.

Montreal,
Maine and Atlantic Railway, which had filed for bankruptcy protection,
was sold in January in a closed-door auction for $15.85 million. The
buyer was later revealed to be Railroad Acquisition Holdings, an
affiliate of New York-based Fortress Investment Group.

Government and industry have continued to tighten rail regulations since the tragedy.

The federal government pledged in April to pull all old,
rupture-prone tank cars, known as DOT-111s, off Canada’s rails in the
next few years.

Millions of dollars have been pledged to rebuild
Lac-Megantic. The federal and Quebec governments have said they will
split the cost.


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