The jumble of tank cars following the derailment, explosion, and fire - Date/Photographer unknown.
21 November 2013
Canada Commits Funds for Quebec
Lake Megantic Quebec - The Canadian government is putting in place the pieces to help clean up any lasting environmental damage from this year's deadly train derailment in a small Quebec town, and to prevent similar disasters.
During a visit to Lake Megantic on Thursday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said his government would contribute up to $95 million to help clean up soil and water contaminated by crude oil that seeped from the derailed rail cars of a train operated by Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA).
The disaster, in July, killed 47 people and wiped out much of the Quebec town's downtown core.
"For the government, it is critical your community has the necessary tools to move forward," Mr. Harper told a crowd.
"I know full well there is no amount of money that can wipe out your difficult memory, or the horrible consequences of this tragedy. But we are doing everything in our power to support you."
Mr. Harper's visit to Lake Megantic, which comes as he faces increased scrutiny in Ottawa over new revelations from a police probe involving his former chief aide, follows up on a rail-safety announcement roughly 24 hours earlier from the government's transport minister.
Lisa Raitt on Wednesday announced a new policy, effective immediately, which compels railway operators such as Canadian National Railway Co. and Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. to disclose to municipalities information regarding the shipment of dangerous goods through their communities.
Municipal leaders must be informed of what's being shipped, and how much.
"The safety of Canadians is the priority for this government. So we will continue to work with all stakeholders to improve rail safety and improve the transportation of hazardous goods," Ms. Raitt said.
There could be more regulations in the offing once Canada's main rail regulator, the Transportation Safety Board, concludes its investigation into the Quebec rail disaster.
A board spokesman said Thursday the investigation is continuing and that there was no timetable as to when the final findings would emerge.
To date, preliminary findings suggest the oil carried by MMA was a more-flammable liquid than what the shippers indicated.
In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, Canadian regulators moved to boost safety measures related to transporting dangerous goods, including requiring such trains to be manned by two qualified operators.