Nation & World News

Trains To Roll Through Devastated Quebec Town Again

By Mark Memmott on December 16th, 2013

For the first time since a July 6 derailment that caused massive explosions and fires that killed 47 people, freight trains are due to roll again through Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, starting on Wednesday.

According to Toronto’s Globe and Mail:

“Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche said service will be restored gradually and will initially be limited to dry goods. …

“Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, the company whose train crashed in Lac-Mégantic, has promised not to run oil through the town, but Lac-Mégantic will have no guarantee that pledge will be kept once the railway is sold to another company. MM&A has filed for creditor protection and its assets are expected to be sold before February of next year.

“Once MM&A has been sold, the town will have to negotiate a new agreement with the company that takes over, she said.”

The CBC adds that the mayor “said residents are concerned about the resumption of trains. ‘We’ve invited people to contact various psycho-social services if they need it,’ she said.”

As we’ve written, “the disaster occurred after an unmanned train rolled down a hill and derailed in the town, setting off explosions in its dozens of tanks that were carrying crude oil.”

The explosions and fires flattened parts of Lac-Mégantic, as North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann previously reported for All Things Considered. In October, more than three months after the disaster, crews were “still pumping spilled crude oil and chemicals from underneath what used to be a gorgeous lakefront street.”

About $116 million has been pledged for rebuilding the business district, but as Brian added “no one’s sure what the final price tag will be [and] the province of Quebec and Canada’s national government are feuding over how much to spend and who should pay.”

Lac-Mégantic is about 150 miles east of Montreal, near the border with Maine.

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