Searchers dig through the rubble for victims at Lake Megantic - 8 Jul 2013 - Ryan Remiorz.
21 May 2014
MNA Ghislain Bolduc Will Head
Lake Megantic Committee
Lake Megantic Quebec - Ghislain Bolduc, Liberal Member of the Quebec National Assembly (MNA) for Megantic riding, will chair the inter-ministerial committee of the Quebec cabinet formed to oversee reconstruction of the town of Lake Megantic.
The Ministry of Municipal Affairs "will be the one-stop reference for the town," Bolduc told reporters Wednesday, adding that he will co-ordinate the activities of the committee.
Bolduc was accompanied by Municipal Affairs Minister Pierre Moreau and Pierre Paradis, agriculture minister and minister responsible for the Eastern Townships region, which includes Lake Megantic.
Bolduc is not a minister but is parliamentary secretary to Paradis.
Deputy Premier Lise Theriault, Justice Minister Stephanie Vallee, Employment Minister Francois Blais, Transport Minister Robert Poeti, Environment Minister David Heurtel, and Jean-Denis Girard junior minister for small business, complete the committee.
Moreau said that by 31 Mar 2014, the end of the government's 2013-14 financial year, Quebec had spent $124 million on decontamination, reconstruction, and other needs for the community, devastated when a runaway tanker train derailed and exploded in the centre of the town 6 Jul 2013, killing 47 people.
The estimate of the total decontamination costs alone for the Chaudiere River and the town, whose former downtown core was contaminated by the oil spill and remains off-limits, is $200 million.
The province spent money on psychological counselling, temporary lodging, construction of a new commercial district, and a bridge.
Expected to be completed by August, it will cross the Chaudiere River into the new commercial district.
Quebec money is also available for the town's economic recovery, but Moreau said it is impossible now to estimate the total cost of the cleanup, rebuilding, and economic recovery.
The minister said he expects the government will have a better idea of the total cost by 8 Jul 2014, when Premier Philippe Couillard and others will attend a commemoration ceremony in Lake Megantic.
Fortress Investment Group LLC of New York completed its acquisition of the Montreal Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), operator of the runaway train, last week for $17 million, and has indicated it wants to resume the transport of crude oil on the line.
Lake Megantic townspeople have indicated they want a bypass, to move the railway line away from built-up areas.
The previous Parti Quebecois government estimated the cost of the bypass at $175 million, but a local business group has prepared an alternate bypass plan that would cost $50 million.
Moreau said safety must be assured if oil is to be carried again on the rail line through Lake Megantic, but he was non-committal on whether the province would finance the railway bypass.
"There are 500 municipalities in Quebec in the same situation," the minister said, indicating that if Quebec paid for a Lake Megantic railway bypass, other communities with railway lines would ask for the same.