Part of the aftermath in Lake Megantic - Date/Photographer unknown.
19 July 2013
Federal Officials Ask Who Will Pay
for Rebuilding Lake Megantic
Ottawa Ontario - Federal officials are uncertain about the limits of the Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway's (MMA) ongoing insurance coverage, prompting new questions about the company's survival and whether Canadian taxpayers will be on the hook for rebuilding the Quebec town of Lake Megantic decimated by this month's runaway train disaster.
"My first thought is the Department of Justice better get on this very quickly," Liberal transportation critic David McGuinty said. "There have to be, of course, assessments, legal opinions rendered ASAP, as to what extent the Canadian people are going to have to pay."
McGuinty said numerous spin off costs could emerge, on top of cleanup and rebuilding efforts from the disaster that claimed the lives of dozens of people. He said the department would need to assess whether it can recover those amounts from the company or its insurance providers. The Canadian Transportation Agency, an independent regulator and tribunal that is responsible for issuing certificates of fitness, based on insurance coverage, that allow railways to operate, said the company confirmed on Wednesday that it still had insurance for its operations as well as those of its subsidiary, MMAC. But an agency spokeswoman said it needed to review whether this insurance coverage was adequate.
"We are in the process now of doing an assessment, doing a review of the information, in order to confirm that they continue to have adequate insurance liability for their ongoing operations," said Jacqueline Bannister, from the agency. "The agency is acting in an expeditious manner and will require time to properly assess the information."
The MMA's president, Ed Burkhardt, said last week that the railway's insurance limits would be tested by the disaster.
But Daniel Gardner, a Quebec law professor specializing in liability issues, suggested legal action could take more than 15 years to resolve.
Mike De Souza.