DAILY NEWS May 14, 2014 2:12 PM - 0 comments

47 criminal charges laid in tragic Lac-Mégantic derailment

Historic case heads to court

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By: HazMat Staff

Nearly a year after the tragic oil train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Québec, three employees of the defunct rail operator are facing 47 counts of criminal negligence, one for each person that died in the fiery July 2013 explosions. 

The Québec provincial prosecutor's office filed the charges on May 13, 2014 against Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Ltd., and its former employee Thomas Harding, the train’s operator, as well as Jean Demaitre and Richard Labrie, who were the railway's traffic controllers. Although the railway went bankrupt, and is due to be sold any day now, the government still considers it a legal entity.

Read HazMat Editor Guy Crittenden's thoughts on the Lac-Mégantic charges

 Near midnight on July 6, 2013, the train’s locomotive was shut down after a small fire, which led to the train’s air brakes losing pressure and eventually giving out, crash investigators determined. The runaway train rolled downhill for 12 kilometres towards Lac-Mégantic, and then derailed. At least five oil tankers exploded, levelling 30 buildings and killing 47 people.

The total environmental cleanup of the crash site could end up costing between $200 million and $500 million based on early estimates.

The men are now out on bail after each posted $15,000.

Criminal negligence that causes death can result in a jail sentence of up to life imprisonment in Canada.

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