DAILY NEWS Jun 19, 2014 1:18 PM - 2 comments

Lac-Mégantic: Handbrakes improperly applied

Quebec launches $409-million lawsuit

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By: HazMat Staff


The engineer of train that derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Que., did not properly apply the handbrakes of the oil-filled train, according to new court documents.

The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MM&A) Railway company’s own rules require nine handbrakes to be applied for a train with 70 to 79 railcars.

In May 2014, MM&A and three of its employees — including the engineer — were each charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death related to the derailment.

Prior to the July 6, 2013 derailment, the 79-railcar train had been parked on a slope, which should have required additional handbraking, some experts suggest.

In other Lac-Megantic news, the province of Quebec has launched a $409-million lawsuit against MM&A.

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Reader Comments

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Eric A Tuttle

With this Rail Line operating in such a supposedly POOR financial condition, just barely making ends meet, one has to wonder why the handbrakes were not set in accordance with regulations. Even if they had been set, would they have worked. Or maybe they were set, but failed. Was the recent inspection shoddy? Were some issues called minor these handbrakes? Were they tested for functionality in the inspection? If so how does one in a brief inspection "load test" them for the weight of the load on this particular trip? Is the inspection itself faulty? Would they pass for say, 30 tanks and tested for such if at all, but would fail for 73? It seems it was quick to blame one or two that may not have had a say in the safety, or could do nothing even if properly reported. Though Refusing to operate would have shown a protest, it would have cost them their job. That may seem to be a high sacrifice, but now they may be paying the ultimate penalty. If they did protest, object or otherwise state there were issues, the blame climbs the ladder toward the top and should land in the lap of the person(s) requiring the trip be made anyway and ignoring the potential problems.

Posted June 20, 2014 08:12 PM


your derailment date above is wrong ......prior to july 06, 2014

Posted June 20, 2014 06:58 AM

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