Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche gives a press conference in Lake Megantic - 13 Jul 2013 Peter Power.
23 July 2013
Railway Company Has Stopped Paying
for Lake Megantic Disaster Cleanup
Lake Megantic Quebec - The railway company involved in the deadly train derailment at Lake Megantic has stopped paying for the clean-up of the disaster site, forcing the town to pick up the tab, Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche said Tuesday.
The town has sent a lawyer's letter to Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), giving the transport company 48 hours to repay the more than $4-million Lake Megantic has had to pay so far to retain the three firms initially hired by MMA.
"This situation is highly deplorable on MMA's part. It's unacceptable," Ms. Roy-Laroche told reporters.
"The town of Lake Megantic cannot tolerate this."
MMA chairman Ed Burkhardt could not immediately be reached for comment.
Ms. Roy-Laroche said some of the contractors had stopped working on the mop-up operations and threatened to walk off last week.
"I hope that MMA will respect its pledges and that they'll act as good corporate citizens," Ms. Roy-Laroche said.
Surete du Quebec Inspector Michel Forget said Tuesday no new human remains had been found and most tanker cars have been removed from the site, to be decontaminated and then destroyed.
Both Insp. Forget and the provincial coroner's spokeswoman Genevieve Guilbault said officials still hopeful and optimistic that they can still discover more remains.
She warned, however, that "we'll do all we can, but we have to be realistic and cannot discard the possibility that some cannot be recovered."
Ms. Guilbault said remains of 29 of 42 victims have been identified.
Provincial Environment Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet has estimated that 250,000 to 300,000 litres of light crude spilled into Lake Megantic and the Chaudiere river.
Ms. Roy-Laroche said her town is also formally asking MMA to identify the name and the professional qualifications of the person who is in charge of supervising the contractors.
The town also does not have a complete list of the contractors and their fees and mandates.
"We won't tolerate any delays in the works due to MMA being negligent or its failure to pay its suppliers," the mayor said.
"To ask MMA to reimburse us and pay its suppliers is not asking a lot, considering the circumstances."
Quebec Public Security Minister Stephane Bergeron said any interruptions in the clean-up would have an impact on the decontamination of the site and would further hinder the ability to recover victims' remains and investigate the accident.
Tu Thanh Ha.