Train derailment sparks major fire in Quebec's Eastern Townships

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posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 12:18 PM
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reply to post by Irako
 


We as a society have some serious thinking to do. It really brings to light how towns were built close to railways and not the other way around in so many cases. We have to think long and hard on our reliance on this type of fuel. Regardless of the intense lobbying done by certain parties, I believe this tragedy illustrates just how much our past decisions impact our present lives. We simply must go forward much more responsibly no matter whose money is in play.

LAST NIGHT
People wondered why new fires were breaking out, especially as half the downtown area is gone. Firefighters were battling to keep unexploded railcars cool in the midst of this living hellfire.



edit on 7-7-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)




posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 12:34 PM
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reply to post by aboutface
 


I hear that all the time - but you know what. Our entire civilization is based on crude, we can't simply go off of it. Not unless you want a huge die off.



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 12:38 PM
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reply to post by MidnightTide
 


I understand that many think as you do. However, respecting what you say, I disagree with keeping that frame of mind without seriously looking for a way out. We simply have to come up with alternative ways of living.



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 12:44 PM
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reply to post by aboutface
 


I can understand what you are saying, I really can. However, the railroad carries- literally- over four million tons of cargo through my town every year. The last time there was any kind of derailment was 40 years ago. It would be extremely hard to find another transport method that could be more safe.

But there is no such thing as completely safe. And there never will be.



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 12:46 PM
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Some photos from the inferno speak for themselves. RIP to those who have lost their lives.







photos from RDI.ca
edit on 7-7-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 01:19 PM
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reply to post by Montana
 


Is it correct that trains are hauling larger and larger fuel loads? Would lessening the tonnage be something to consider in terms of risk in transporting dangerous materials?



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 01:31 PM
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reply to post by aboutface
 


Crude oil trains are not an especially large train. They average 75 to 100 cars, 7500 to 10,000 tons.

Compare that to a coal train that carries 125 to 200 cars, 17,000 to 25000 tons. Or a grain train of 110 cars and 16,000 tons. Safety depends on train make up, no doubt about that, but maintenance is equally important. Maintenance of the road itself is possibly the most important part of safe operations. Unfortunately it is also the first place railroads cut back to improve the bottom line (after firing people).

Lowering the train size, increasing crew size, more maintenance, bring back cabooses- which, by the way would probably have prevented this derailment from happening in the first place- all of these things would improve safety but they will never happen. They cost money that the current industry considers unacceptable.



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 02:06 PM
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The rail company that operated the train -- the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway -- said that shortly before midnight Friday, the train's conductor parked it and locked its brakes before checking into a hotel for the night.

But the rail line said that "sometime after, the train got loose," speeding into the town "under its own inertia," before derailing.


www.voanews.com...





One person has been killed, according to police, but several people were reported missing.

The crash happened as the unmanned freight train travelled through the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, a lakeside town with a population of 6,000, on Saturday morning.

The train's operator confirmed it had been parked out of town, but they are unsure how it "got released".

Massive flames and thick smoke could be seen, locals have reported that many buildings have been destroyed.

More than 1,000 residents were told to leave the area.

No-one was on board the train when it rolled into the town, according to the operator the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway company.

Vice president Joseph McGonigle said: "We're not sure what happened, but the engineer did everything by the book.

"He had parked the train and was waiting for his relief ... somehow, the train got released."

Mayor Colette Roy-LaRoche was nearly in tears as she addressed the media, according to the Montreal Gazette.

When you see the downtown of your city almost destroyed you think, how are we going to get through this? But I can assure everyone here that all the authorities and ministries have been very supportive," she said.

"We've deployed all the resources possible."

Four tanker cars blew up after the train, which had 73 cars in all, came off the rails shortly after 1am local time.

Environmental experts have also arrived in the town to assess how much oil may have spilled into local waterways.

Environment Quebec spokesman Christian Blanchette said: "Right now, there is big smoke in the air, so we have a mobile laboratory here to monitor the quality of the air.

"We also have a spill on the lake and the river that is concerning us.

"We have advised the local municipalities downstream to be careful if they take their water from the Chaudiere River."


news.sky.com...

Hey, the train just decided to go off on its own.

Sounds like the terrorists won this round.
edit on 7-7-2013 by MidnightTide because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 02:16 PM
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reply to post by MidnightTide
 


It will be nice to hear from the actual railroad or TSB inspectors rather than having to listen to reporters without a clue. Those news reports have so many inconsistencies and incorrect interpretations that it is very hard to understand what they are saying.



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 02:58 PM
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reply to post by Montana
 


There was an observation made of grass growing between the rails at Nantes. So it would seem that supports your point of view.

My question above about train size is that I wonder that at the time sidings were built whether they had a certain length of train in mind. I don't know Nantes but since gravity seemed to play a part in this calamity, could a shorter train possibly mean that it could have been parked further back and maybe avoided an incline? I know this is speculation, but surely the length of a train must play some role in today's transportation issues?



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 03:21 PM
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UPDATE:

The remains of five people have been recovered and sent to the forensics lab in Montreal for identification.

There is a lot of oil on Lake Megantic. Floating booms are in place. There is oil in the Chaudière River.

Water sourcing has been switched to another lake. Three towns are on now on a boil water advisory, including Lake Megantic.

More or less, there are still forty people declared missing.

The second thousand people to be evacuated because of toxic fumes will be re-entering their homes shortly.

Now that the fires are out, though there is still a certain danger, people are beginning to come to terms with their massive tragedy.

Fire services were called to Nantes when the picture on page one showed an exhaust fire. People are questioning whether at that time the engine could have been uncoupled from the cars.

RDI reports that the railroad company says it's possible that the air brakes were to blame. They issued a press release about the tragedy yesterday here
edit on 7-7-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 03:51 PM
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Originally posted by aboutface
reply to post by Montana
 


There was an observation made of grass growing between the rails at Nantes. So it would seem that supports your point of view.

My question above about train size is that I wonder that at the time sidings were built whether they had a certain length of train in mind. I don't know Nantes but since gravity seemed to play a part in this calamity, could a shorter train possibly mean that it could have been parked further back and maybe avoided an incline? I know this is speculation, but surely the length of a train must play some role in today's transportation issues?


The crew probably would have pulled a shorter train up to the same place they did this one. Just in case there was another train or rail equipment that needed to get in the siding behind it. Longer trains are harder to operate, and there are more chances for something to go wrong or break simply because there are more cars and rolling equipment involved in a longer train. Derailments seem more dramatic when longer trains are involved due largely to the increased amount of inertia a larger train carries.

Switching to shorter trains, though would increase the total numbers of trains operating which carries it's own safety challenges and increased opportunities for traffic congestion and train on train incidents. Just like there are more auto accidents at rush hour. Which method of operation is safer would be a good subject for a doctoral thesis at a major university, not the opinion of an old broke-down railroader!



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 04:44 PM
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Originally posted by aboutface

RDI reports that the railroad company says it's possible that the air brakes were to blame. They issued a press release about the tragedy yesterday here


Thank goodness, something that is understandable!

The release contains a little information that will answer some questions while suggesting a few more. The train was stopped at Nantes because the crew did not have any more time to work in that tour of duty. Legal requirements limit the number of consecutive hours crews can work before stopping and taking a mandatory rest period. Here in the States we can work 12 hours before being required to take at least 10 hours off (this is variable due to several circumstances but is generally correct). This requirement is designed to increase safety by reducing the fatigue crews are subject to. Railroad operating crews run on a constant state of borderline fatigue. This due to many factors, but is one reason rail careers are considered so dangerous.

The release only mentions a train engineer, no conductor is included. I can only assume that this means the MMA runs trains with one man crews. If this is true, it tells me most everything I need to know about the MMA. Single person crews are inherently unsafe. Large Class 1 railroads are unable to run single person crews in North America at this time but they are clamoring after it like a bunch of rabid dogs. Short line railroads like the MMA have much less restrictions on operating practices. Single person crews are unsafe because there are just too many things happening in a moving train to be reliably controlled by one person. While concentrating on one aspect of movement another is missed. With two people in the cab there are two sets of eyes, two brains and four hands. There have been many times in my career when that still wasn't enough. Since the 1980s train crew size in the US has been reduced from 6 crew members to four, then to three, and now is two. Many short lines have gone to one and the big roads desperately want to follow suit. Simply and solely due to greed. They have been aided in this quest by technology but technology seems to fail at the worst possible time. If the MMA runs single person crews this tells me that management has a much higher concern for a dollar than they do for safety. I would expect to find other lapses in maintenance and operating procedures.

The release states that the engineer secured the train before departing for his mandated rest period at a hotel. This is standard practice when a crew has reached it's hours of service and no relief crew is available. I would expect that the reason no relief crew was available because the railroad was attempting to run with an insufficient number of crew members. This is why train crews are constantly fatigued and is common industry wide.

"Securing" a train before leaving it unattended involves more than just the air brakes. It also involves leaving the train a certain length from any switches, in a specific state of tension, and other considerations including physically applying a minimum amount of manual hand brakes on individual cars. This is another process that is unsafe when done by a single member crew. With two people one is on the ground applying brakes and one is in the cab maintaining control of the train in case of unexpected movement. These tank cars slosh around a bit even with the internal baffles and sometimes cars will shift forward or back for quite some time after stopping.

After all the different securing processes are complete the operating rules specify that the crew will release all air brakes and ensure that the manual brakes hold the train in place before re-applying the air brakes. This is to ensure that the train cannot move by itself. With a railroad that runs single person crews, who knows what the operating practices are.

If the engineer completed all the required tasks as the release states he did, and performed the release test before departing for the hotel, there is only one way this tragedy occurred. 'Someone would have to physically release the individual brakes on the cars and engines, then they would have had to enter the cab and release the air brakes. They would then have to devise a way to prevent the alerter system from stopping the train automatically after a short period.

In other words if the train was secured properly, what happened here was murder, pure and simple.
edit on 7/7/2013 by Montana because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 04:54 PM
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reply to post by Montana
 


Which further backs up the links I provided.

The man locked down that train, someone with knowledge of crew shifts would have been able to get on that train and get it moving again without anyone wiser.

This stinks of terrorism.



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 05:01 PM
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The Enbridge pipeline project may be related to this. Trains in the region have been carrying massive amounts of oil from the West, too much that they were designed to handle.

We'll see the outcome of this, but I suspect this was a staged event (it's very easy to sabotage those railroads) so that Enbridge gets its pipeline reversal done, and monopolizes all the oil flows to New England. This is sick, but considering how big corporate thugs are going wild these days, not too surprising.



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 05:01 PM
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I've been lurking on the site for some time, but decided to sign in for this thread.

Right now, we know a few facts:

-The locomotive (head wagon) was on fire 2 hours before the tragedy. It was a steady fire, firefighters were called to put it down. On the news, they say it was a fuel line that was on fire. It has been confirmed the head wagon that was on fire was from the same train that derailed.
-After the fire was put down, the train was parked for a shift change. The owning company confirmed they don't turn off the engines when they park trains for shift change, even if they keep running for hours. So the engine was still running, but the brakes were put on.
-The unattended train started rolling backwards down the hill for 12km, into Lac Megantic, where it derailed. Nobody knows why it started moving on its own.
-The locomotive (head wagon) was found 1km away from the crash in Lac Megantic: it got detached from the rest of the train at some point (was it from the start, or half way through? nobody knows).

I wonder if it is normal to keep an engine running, unattended, after a fire was put down. The company didn't ask to send another one. To me, it doesn't make sense!



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 05:04 PM
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reply to post by MidnightTide
 

Well, that or.....

There is also the possibility that the engineer did not apply a sufficient number of brakes on the cars. If he did not perform a release test he wouldn't know that the train would still roll. This would still require either a complete failure of the air brake system which released the air brakes, or someone released them either by mistake or by design.



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 05:18 PM
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reply to post by Xzia99
 


Welcome to ATS!

RDI reported that a man who lives near the track in Nantes saw the train approach Nantes in total darkness without lights of any kind. A fireman from Nantes was just interviewed who said it was the rail line or conductor who called them to put the fire out.

Correction; It was a man who said he saw the train slowly leaving Nantes without any lights on it.

A company spokesman is not ruling out intrusion by unknown person.
edit on 7-7-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 05:34 PM
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Originally posted by Xzia99

-The locomotive (head wagon) was on fire 2 hours before the tragedy. It was a steady fire, firefighters were called to put it down. On the news, they say it was a fuel line that was on fire. It has been confirmed the head wagon that was on fire was from the same train that derailed.


If this is true, then I misinterpreted the picture included on the first page of this thread. However, a fire in the engine compartment would not logically compromise the air brake system on the train. Train brake systems are designed to handle that type of failure.


-After the fire was put down, the train was parked for a shift change. The owning company confirmed they don't turn off the engines when they park trains for shift change, even if they keep running for hours. So the engine was still running, but the brakes were put on.


Yes, this is a required practice. The question is whether a sufficient number of car (wagon) brakes were applied as well.


-The unattended train started rolling backwards down the hill for 12km, into Lac Megantic, where it derailed. Nobody knows why it started moving on its own.
-The locomotive (head wagon) was found 1km away from the crash in Lac Megantic: it got detached from the rest of the train at some point (was it from the start, or half way through? nobody knows).


To me, this would indicate human intervention. However, are you sure they found the HEAD engine and not the REAR engine? Also, the train was an eastbound not a westbound. To roll from Nantes to Lac Megantic the train would be rolling FORWARDS, not backwards.


I wonder if it is normal to keep an engine running, unattended, after a fire was put down. The company didn't ask to send another one. To me, it doesn't make sense!


It is required to keep at least one engine in a train consist running at all times to maintain air pressure in the air brake pipe and reservoir. Modern engines have an automatic start and stop feature to keep from wasting too much fuel so they are all left running more or less constantly. If the leaking fuel pipe on an engine is repaired, there would be no reason not to leave it running. If the engine with the fire was indeed part of this train (meaning the engine that was on fire in the photo on page 1), this suggests to me that some of the information you gave us is incorrect. In the photo you see an individual engine connected to a freight car. The press release from the railroad states that the train had five engines. In order for this engine to be part of that train and in normal operations, i would expect any single engines to be on the rear of the train and operated as distributed power from the lead engine.

In either case, to find a single engine sitting by itself a large distance from the rest of the train suggests something sinister to me. It suggests that the alerter system attempted to stop the rolling train but was defeated by the prior actions of *SOMEONE*.

That being said, I have seen enough weird and unexplained things happen on the railroad that I am reluctant to say that this could not have happened by pure chance. But it's pretty unlikely.
edit on 7/7/2013 by Montana because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 7 2013 @ 05:57 PM
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reply to post by Montana
 


Just heard on the NBC news engine not with cars, read above.
Video I watched had tanker cars lined up to cars on fire, last tanker had flashing red light.

Montana:
These air brakes are not like tractor trailers? Need air to release? Air pressure to stop instead?

Getting stranger with each new data release...
edit on 7-7-2013 by donlashway because: (no reason given)


Just thinking could someone have separated the cars from the engine thinking they would throw siding switch and run the tankers into the industrial siding separately?
edit on 7-7-2013 by donlashway because: (no reason given)
edit on 7-7-2013 by donlashway because: (no reason given)





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