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U.S. firm questions legality of Quebec cleanup order

July 30, 2013, Lac-Megantic, Que. – A U.S. company says it has serious objections to a legal request that it help pay for the cleanup of the Lac-Megantic rail disaster.

July 30, 2013
By The Canadian Press

July 30, 2013, Lac-Megantic, Que. – A U.S. company says it has serious objections to a legal request that it help pay for the cleanup of the Lac-Megantic rail disaster.

World Fuel Services Corp. is one of three companies that received a Quebec government legal notice Monday demanding that they pick up the tab for the devastating derailment in the town.

The petroleum-logistics firm was named in the order alongside its subsidiary, Western Petroleum Company, and the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway.

In a statement released today, the Miami-based company says it did not expect to be named in this legal notice, or in any similar government action related to the July 6 crash involving a crude-oil-filled train.

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World Fuel Services says it has sent its own environmental experts to monitor the progress of the cleanup efforts.

It says Monday's order is the first time the Quebec government has stated that World Fuel Services has any responsibility to pay for or supervise cleanup activities by crews under control of MMA and local authorities.

The Miami-based company says it will continue to meet obligations it may have with respect to the accident.

Meanwhile, the railway involved in the derailment is said to have laid off five more employees.

A union said MMA has now cut nearly one-third of its Quebec workforce since one of its trains derailed in downtown Lac-Megantic and killed an estimated 47 people.

It said the layoffs Tuesday of five Farnham-based MMA workers means 24 of the railway's 75 employees in the province have lost their jobs since the July 6 tragedy.

The U.S.-based company let go 19 Quebec workers earlier this month – citing the disaster's impact on the business.

The future of the railway is in doubt as it faces imposing financial hurdles – including several lawsuits and mounting environmental cleanup costs.

The United Steelworkers says the five employees were told about the cuts this morning by telephone.