╌>

Canada Saw a Deadly Derailment. A Decade Later, Little Has Changed.

  

Category:  World News

Via:  hallux  •  last year  •  23 comments

By:   Ian Austen - NYT

Canada Saw a Deadly Derailment. A Decade Later, Little Has Changed.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T





OTTAWA — Its nearly silent approach belied the fiery death it was bringing.

Rapidly gaining speed until it hit 65 miles per hour, the cargo train carrying 63 tank cars filled with light petroleum oil rolled downhill toward Lac-Mégantic, a popular tourist town east of Montreal, without any crew members on board to sound a warning or try to stop it.

At about 1:15 a.m. on July 6, 2013, as the ghost train raced into the town’s center, the tank cars separated from the locomotives and derailed. The resulting explosion of six million liters of oil   killed 47 people in Lac-Mégantic , a community of 5,600, and incinerated most of its downtown.

The disaster on the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railroad was Canada’s deadliest railway crash in 149 years. It raised alarm in a country where miles-long trains hauling oil, explosives and toxic chemicals roll relentlessly through the centers of some of its largest cities and dozens of smaller communities, many of which had been created by the arrival of a railway.




Similar concerns have been raised in the United States after a freight train derailed in Ohio, setting off a fire and leading the authorities to deliberately release toxic fumes to neutralize burning train cargo.


Yet despite repeated calls in Canada for a special inquiry into the disaster and rail safety in general, none was ever convened. And a decade later, many rail safety experts say that changes to rules and how railways are regulated fall short of what is needed to avoid a repeat of the devastation — a consequence, they say, of rail industry pushback.

“There have been a lot of steps that have been taken since Lac-Mégantic,” said Kathy Fox, the chairwoman of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, the country’s accident investigation agency. “But those are all administrative defenses. In other words, they depend on somebody following a rule or following a procedure.”

“What we’ve been calling for are physical defenses,” she added. “It is certainly discouraging, disappointing. I guess you can use different words when we see how long it can take to resolve some of these issues.”

The Railway Association of Canada, an industry group, did not respond to a request for comment.

Lobbying by railways and shippers, particularly the energy industry, continues to delay measures that could prevent future accidents, said Bruce Campbell, an adjunct professor of environmental and urban change at York University in Toronto, who wrote a book and several reports on the Lac-Mégantic disaster.



“That’s seminal whether it’s in Canada or the U.S.,” Mr. Campbell said. “They all act very much in concert to limit regulations and dilute them so they can’t be properly enforced.”

While a preliminary investigation into the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio has identified an overheated axle bearing as the cause, mechanical failure was only one of a series of factors that led to the deadly crash in Lac-Mégantic.

Canada’s Transportation Safety Board   found   that safety practices were skimpy and that working employees to the point of fatigue was common at the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic, a threadbare regional railway that picked up freight in Montreal from the Canadian Pacific Railway, one of Canada’s two major lines and a major operator in the central United States that first owned the route until 1995.

Today, downtown Lac-Mégantic remains largely an open field. Longer and heavier trains pass even more frequently   through the town on rebuilt tracks .




The train that bore down on Lac-Mégantic a decade ago had only a single crew member who parked the train about seven miles uphill from the town when his shift ended.




In the first of a series of   errors, the engineer, who later testified to feeling exhausted by the time he was done working,   failed to apply a sufficient number of hand brakes on the train’s cars, an arduous task, when he left the train for the night and took a taxi to his hotel.

After the engineer left, a small fire broke out in the lead locomotive which had been spewing oil all day. Once it was extinguished, firefighters, on the railway’s recommendation, shut down the locomotive, another major error. Without the locomotive’s power, the train’s separate air braking system gradually lost its force, compounding the insufficiency in engaged hand brakes and setting the train free.



One recommendation that was swiftly implemented nationwide was the replacement of the tank car models used on the Lac-Mégantic train, with new or retrofitted ones designed to be sturdier if they were to derail.




But evidence from derailments since then suggests that the new tank cars have largely failed to prove more resilient, said Ian Naish, the former director of rail accident investigations at the safety board, who is now a safety consultant.




“The bad news is that it looks like if you have a derailment at a speed greater than 35 miles an hour, there’s no guarantee they can continue to contain the products,” he said. “So long as you want to keep trains humming along the tracks at a relatively high rate of speed, if there is a derailment it’s highly likely that there’s going to be a leak, a rupture or a fire.”

The rail industry, Ms. Fox said, has not been receptive to another safety suggestion by the transportation board: that railroads add chemicals to explosive cargos to reduce their flammability during shipment.

Nor have they heeded the agency’s call for electric parking brakes on trains to replace hand brakes, which are often inadequately tightened and have not significantly changed in design since the 19th century.

The destruction of Lac-Mégantic led to rules requiring railways to hold operating permits much like airlines and develop safety management systems, but Ms. Fox said her agency was concerned about the adequacy of such plans, as well as the effectiveness of their oversight by Transport Canada, the department that regulates railroads.

Transport Canada was “in the process of updating the railway safety management system regulations” and had increased inspections of railways to about 35,000 a year from 20,000 in 2013, Nadine Ramadan, the press secretary for the minister of transport, said in a statement.

The Lac-Mégantic disaster led to the demise of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway.

In 2020, Canadian Pacific, the line’s original owner, purchased it as part of a program that involved expanding a container port in New Brunswick.

The railroad had spent 70 million Canadian dollars on new rails, rail ties and other improvements to the once dilapidated Montreal, Main and Atlantic line as it increased the number and size of the trains it carries, said Andy Cummings, a spokesman for Canadian Pacific.



Disputes over the route of a rail bypass that will divert trains away from the center of Lac-Mégantic have delayed downtown reconstruction. In the meantime, the rumbling of trains still inspires dread in a community where few people do not know someone who died because of the fiery derailment.




“We don’t feel any safer,” said Gilbert Carette, a member of a citizens’ rail safety group formed after the wreck. “I think it’s a betrayal by the companies not improving railroad safety.”









Tags

jrDiscussion - desc
[]
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
1  seeder  Hallux    last year

Continue playing partisan blame games and what happened in Lac Megantic will without a doubt happen in the USA.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1  devangelical  replied to  Hallux @1    last year

it'll take another major train disaster in a more affluent red area before the party of corporate ass kissers act...

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  devangelical @1.1    last year

The Federal Railroad Administration is one of the ten agencies under the Department of Transportation.  Biden doesn't need the Repubs if he wants changed regulations.

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
1.1.2  devangelical  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.1    last year

so they can be rolled back the next time a corporate ass kisser gets back into the white house?

 
 
 
Greg Jones
Professor Participates
1.1.3  Greg Jones  replied to  devangelical @1.1    last year

The accident in Lac-Mégantic was human error as the story points out, not mechanical failure. There is no evidence to support the idea that stouter tank cars would have prevented the ruptures and resulting fires. There is also no evidence to support the notion that some kind of electrical braking would work any better than the air brake system that has been in use for many decades.

 The accident in Palestine, Ohio was mechanical failure as determined by the NTSB.

The political blame game is alive and well it seems.

 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.4  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  devangelical @1.1.2    last year

The FRA safety rule adopted in 2015 required electronically controlled pneumatic brakes to be installed on all high-hazard flammable unit trains by May. 2023. 

The Norfolk Southern freight train wasn't classified as a high-hazard flammable unit train.  A high-hazard flammable unit train was defined then and now as a train going faster than 30 miles per hour with at least 70 loaded tank cars containing certain highly flammable liquids, such as crude oil and ethanol.

The Norfolk Southern train was categorized as a "general merchandise" train and it used "pneumatic brakes," or conventional air brakes.

Occupy Democrats and others that claimed "Obama imposed stricter rules on trains carrying toxins. Trump killed them." are either lying to you or are just ignorant of the facts.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.5  Kavika   replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.4    last year

The way the rule was written is that it applied to only specific trains with a certain number of hazmat cars. There was a move to expand the rule to additional trains which the DOT was in favor of until the AAR and its lobbying and spreading the money to politicians caused it to be dropped and then eliminated entirely. Would it have stopped the Ohio wreck, I don't know but the RR industry spends millions every year on lobbying and safety rules/improvement are one of their targets. 

The bottom line to all of this is, IMO that lobbying efforts by the AAR stop much-needed safety improvements. Lobbying is simply buying the politician's vote. 

The NS argued that if the rule was expanded it wouldn't be cost-effective for the railroads, they might think differently after this disaster. 

The 70 loaded Hazmat tanker is simply ridiculous you saw what five cars can do, just imagine what 70 would cause.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.6  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Kavika @1.1.5    last year
Lobbying is simply buying the politician's vote. 

As is campaign and PAC donations.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.7  Kavika   replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.6    last year

Yes, it is, RR lobbying resulted in $254 million and PACs $43 million in the last decade.

That will buy a lot of politicians.

Currently, the RR is pushing for one-man crews on all trains. Currently, the short-line RR can have one-man crews but the Class 1 cannot. If their lobbying effort is successful you'll be seeing 2 mile-long trains with hazmat cars being operated by a single engineer.

Good fricking luck with that. 

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.8  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Kavika @1.1.7    last year
Yes, it is, RR lobbying resulted in $254 million and PACs $43 million in the last decade. That will buy a lot of politicians.

Yep, I imagine that this pales in comparison to law firm donations.

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
1.1.9  JBB  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.8    last year

Especially railroad companies' law firms!

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.10  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JBB @1.1.9    last year

Looks like most go to Dems.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.11  Kavika   replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.8    last year
Yep, I imagine that this pales in comparison to law firm donations.

Since it isn't part of the article I don't know or care. 

 
 
 
JBB
Professor Principal
1.1.12  JBB  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.10    last year

So fucking what? That has nothing to do with what the article is about or the comments you were replying to...

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.13  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Kavika @1.1.11    last year
Since it isn't part of the article I don't know or care. 

Sorry, I thought you were interested in lobbying and buying politicians.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.14  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  JBB @1.1.12    last year
So fucking what?

So different industries tend to target different Parties. 

That has nothing to do with what the article is about or the comments you were replying to...

I didn't bring up lobbying, I responded to an earlier comment.

Are you frequently angry?

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.15  Kavika   replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.13    last year
Sorry, I thought you were interested in lobbying and buying politicians.

Assuming never is a good thing and especially when you float off-topic.

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
1.1.16  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Kavika @1.1.15    last year

I thought that you brought up lobbying.

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1.17  Kavika   replied to  Drinker of the Wry @1.1.16    last year

If you want to play games, no problem for me. You know that it was in context with the RR and safety or you can play stupid and do your ADD thing. 

 
 
 
Sean Treacy
Professor Principal
2  Sean Treacy    last year

I thought that derailment was caused by the AFR and the La Culte du Prochain Train 

 
 
 
Hallux
PhD Principal
2.1  seeder  Hallux  replied to  Sean Treacy @2    last year

I think you should digress.

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
3  Buzz of the Orient    last year

Maybe pipelines ARE a better idea.  Mind you not if a nation gets a benefit if it sabotages one, like Nordstream. 

"Canada Saw A Deadly Derailment. A Decade Later, Little Has Changed."

Why?  How about Satan's Most Effective Sin, GREED, as in the article I posted yesterday that was actually read by 3 NT members and voted up by one of them before it was wiped off the Front (Home) Page.

 
 
 
Zebra
Freshman Silent
4  Zebra    last year
Who was really responsable?
 
 

Who is online

Igknorantzruls
Just Jim NC TttH
fineline
Tessylo
Drinker of the Wry
bugsy
Kavika


47 visitors