Lake Megantic Quebec - Two federal cases against former workers and executives of Montreal Maine & Atlantic (MMA) railway are expected to be settled in Lake Megantic today.
They are facing charges for breaking the federal Railway Safety and Fisheries acts in connection with the deadly train explosion that killed 47 people in the small town nearly five years ago.
Ex-CEO Robert Grindrod, engineer Tom Harding, and operations manager Jean Demaitre are among six former employees of the company charged with failing to apply the minimum number of hand brakes on a train and properly testing their effectiveness.
The charges carry a maximum penalty of six months in jail and fines of up to $50,000 per defendant.
The Crown is accusing the same six former MMA employees, as well as Richard Labrie, an ex-MMA employee and rail traffic controller, and the Canadian and American entities of the now-defunct railway of polluting fish habitats when the crude oil flowed into Lake Megantic and the Chaudiere River.
Those charges carry a maximum fine of $1 million per defendant but no jail time.
On 1 Dec 2017, the Crown and defence reached a plea deal to settle the charges, pending judicial approval, which is scheduled to happen today.
Charges Separate From Recent Criminal Acquittals
In the early hours of 6 Jul 2013 a parked freight train carrying six million litres of crude oil rolled downhill into Lake Megantic, leading to the fatal explosion that also razed a major part of the town's centre.
In January, three rank-and-file MMA employees, Harding, Demaitre, and Labrie were acquitted of charges of criminal negligence causing death in the tragedy.
Several family members of those killed in the disaster have long been calling for top MMA bosses to face justice, and that the men who stood trial weren't the people who needed to be held accountable.
The federal charges apply to several bosses from the bankrupt company.
Besides Grindrod, Michael Horan, assistant director of operations, Lynne Labonte, general manager of transportation, and Kenneth Strout, director of operating practices are also accused.
MMA Had Weak Safety Culture
In its 2014 report into the Lake Megantic derailment, Canada's Transportation Safety Board said "no one individual, a single action or a single factor" caused the derailment.
But it chastised MMA for what it called a "weak safety culture" and panned Transport Canada for not keeping a proper regulatory eye on the railway.