The inferno in Lac Meganitc, Quebec on July 6th 2013 when 72 oil tankers exploded after the runaway train derailed in the middle of town.
Photo Credit: radio-canada

Lac Megantic rail tragedy motivated some changes


Lac Megantic residents will mark the first anniversry of the rail tragedy that changed their lives early Sunday morning.

On July 6th, at about 1:15 am, a runaway train derailed and exploded, killing 47 people; 42 bodies were recovered, 5 are presumed to have died in the fire.  The subsequent inferno also destroyed 30 buildings in the town-centre.

In an interview with CBC social worker Normand Grimard said that when he asks people in Lac-Mégantic, how badly they’re suffering on a scale of one to 10, they tell him 20.  He says a year after the deadly derailment, the town is still going through an extraordinary amount of grief.

Lac Megantic town-centre in 2013 after the fire had been extinguished © radio-canada

Avrom Shtern is the rail and transportation spokesperson for Montreal’s Green Coalition.  He grew up in the Montreal suburb of Cote St. Luc, near a railyard. What began as childhood curiosity led to a vocation in adulthood.  He says, “even though rail is a huge player in the economy, it’s being ignored.”

There have been changes, in the wake of the Lac Megantic tragedy.  Canada introduced new standards for the rail cars.  Over the next three years the DOT 111 cars, that were known to be inadequate, will be phased out as cars are retrofitted and the newer better-designed cars with thicker steel casings come into service.

The regulatory framework has also been strengthened.  The 35 provincially regulated railways will have to comply with the safety management systems that the bigger railways have, and there is improved data reporting.

Rail companies now have to make annual reports on the goods they’re transporting, available to communities, with the proviso the information will be kept confidential.  And the companies carrying crude oil, gasoline, diesel and other petroleum products are now obliged to have ’emergency response assistance plans’ (ERAPS).  They must also supply specialized equipment and products, such as the foam eventually used to douse the fire in Lac Megantic, as well as the necessary technical expertise.  Of the 1,100 communities CN and CP move through, only 726 have signed up for the reports.

Changes have been implemented in the United States as well, which is imperative as the two rail systems are linked geographically and economically. North Dakota, where the Bakken formation crude oil originates, agreed to disclose oil train shipments.  And in California, legislators imposed a fee to fund clean-ups in the event of spills or accidents.

In Lac Megantic there is still a debate about where the train-line will be rebuilt.  The mayor wants it diverted outside of town, but that has yet to be decided.

Posted in

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.