Canada files charges in 2013 Lac-Megantic oil train crash

Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:37pm EDT
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By Mike De Souza and Allison Lampert

OTTAWA/MONTREAL (Reuters) - The Canadian government on Monday charged the Montreal Maine & Atlantic Canada Railway Ltd, its affiliate and eight people with violating federal railway safety and environmental laws in connection with a 2013 oil train crash that killed 47 people and flattened the heart of the Quebec village of Lac-Megantic.

Robert Grindrod, the chief executive of now-bankrupt Montreal Maine & Atlantic Canada Railway, was among those charged with contravening the federal Railway Safety Act.

Canada's transport ministry also named five others facing charges, including train driver Thomas Harding, who faces separate charges of criminal negligence. It said others could not be named as they had not been served.

In total, eight people and the two companies, including Montreal Maine & Atlantic Canada Co, the affiliate, have been charged with allegedly violating federal railway safety laws.

Nine people and the two companies were charged with violating Canada's Fisheries Act, which protects waterways.

Grindrod said in a voice mail that he had only heard about the charges through media reports. "I am not going to say anything based on that," he said from his home in Maine.

The charges followed a Transport Canada investigation that found an insufficient number of handbrakes and improper testing of handbrakes had allowed an unattended train carrying North Dakota crude oil to roll down a hill and derail on July 6, 2013 in Lac-Megantic, about 160 miles (250 km) east of Montreal.

The resulting explosion and fire caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damages as well as 47 deaths in what was the continent's deadliest rail disaster in two decades.   Continued...

An emergency worker stands on the site of the train wreck in Lac Megantic, July 16, 2013.  REUTERS/Ryan Remiorz/Pool