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Train derailment sparks major fire in Quebec's Eastern Townships

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posted on Jul, 11 2013 @ 06:19 PM
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UPDATE

After being way too busy, the dear mayor of the shattered town has just made it official. She has declared a state of emergency for her Lac-Mégantic.

The official count of remains found totals 24 people.
The police declared that they are confident that they will find no more remains belonging to the other 26 people who are still missing.




posted on Jul, 12 2013 @ 01:08 AM
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reply to post by aboutface
 


I've been thinking the same thing as well when it comes to the recovery of the deceased and their remains. Most of the victims may have been vaporized when the cars exploded due to the derailments close proximity to the downtown area.



posted on Jul, 12 2013 @ 02:53 PM
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reply to post by gimmefootball400
 


The following might interest you and others: The National Transportation Safety Board of Canada announced that because of high demands they have uploaded and just released today stats on all incidents and accidents includes other companies besides the MMA.

Their report so far stats link at bottom of Lac-Mégantic page


edit on 12-7-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 12 2013 @ 03:10 PM
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Two additional photos taken by the TSB of Canada






posted on Jul, 12 2013 @ 08:24 PM
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reply to post by aboutface
 


For them to have released these stats and photos as quick as they did really shows that people are wanting the causes for this incident to be determined and determined fast. It is not everyday that you see something with such importance to an investigation being released a week after such a catastrophe such as this. You never see a government agency with as much determination behind solving a case as the Canadian TSB is showing. This shows to me that they do indeed want to find a cause to this incident so that everyone affected by it can rest easier.

The photo of the tank car with the piece of rail impaled in it should really show the amount of force that these cars had built up when they derailed. That piece of rail in itself is probably at least a ten to fifteen foot section of rail. By the looks of it, the rail broke off right at the expansion joint or at the weld seem. Weight wise, I'd say its probably 120lbs per inch rail that is impaled in the car. Those cars were probably doing at least fifty to sixty miles per hour when they came into the curve and derailed.



posted on Jul, 12 2013 @ 09:58 PM
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reply to post by gimmefootball400
 

Yes and that car was also dented like a pop can. They say it will be several months before the full report comes out but they expect that this accident will ring changes to railroads transport.

I don't know if you've seen this picture taken by the Sureté du Québec, but it gives me the impression that the wagons just catapulted forward off the wheels.


edit on 12-7-2013 by aboutface because: added photo source



posted on Jul, 13 2013 @ 05:16 PM
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UPDATE
To my surprise, the police have announced that they recovered the remains of 33 people in all, leaving 17 unaccounted for. Eight have been identified thus far.

The town is now beginning to mourn. It held a candlelight vigil last evening and at noon today, church bells tolled 50 times to honour each victim.

The ground is saturated with oil and toxins. Benzene gas is coming out of the ground, so special ventilation and respiratory equipment is being used to continue the search.

It is estimated that between 100,000 to 200,000 gallons of oil have spilled into the lake and river.



posted on Jul, 14 2013 @ 02:56 AM
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As if this town needs another disaster to hit right now. It was horrible that the oil train derailed and exploded. It was horrible that these people were killed and in the way it happened. This town is in a period of long and exacerbated state of morning due to some company's negligence. They may never know the identities of the people that were killed because of where their bodies were incinerated by the heat from the explosion. Now they may have to deal with an environmental disaster on top of what has already happened. For all we know, their water supply may be contaminated to where they can't use it anymore. God knows what the benzene will do to the water table in that area as well.



posted on Jul, 16 2013 @ 12:18 PM
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UPDATE
Two unstable buildings had to be demolished in order to continue the search for more bodies. The police report heat wave temperature rising to 123 degrees in the search area. Adding clothing and breathing equipment, they reported that two searchers had to be hospitalized but are now in satisfactory condition. Workers go in shifts of 15 minutes on /and 15 minutes off to replenish body fluids.

To date the remains of 37 people have been found. 13 have been identified and 13 are still missing.

Beginning today the evacuated are to receive checks in the amount of one thousand dollars and will be transferred from the high school shelter to hotels and similar type of shelter.

Environmental assessments are under way. Flora along the shoreline is oil soaked inland for 40 cm along the shoreline. It doesn't seem like much but the oil spill made its way up to the Saint Lawrence at Levis/Quebec City. Yet we're told that it's a light oil and that is a positive thing as compared to heavier oil that sinks and kills fish etc. Lac-Mégantic has been hosting an annual swim across the lake in August where swimmers from across the world compete including many Olympians. I wonder if It will still go as planned. In the first couple of days the mayor said it would, but it remains to be seen, imo.

In an extraordinary meeting the mayors of Cowansville, Magog, Sherbrooke, Farnham, Sutton, Lac-Mégantic et Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu have formed a committee that resolved to seek an accountability meeting with the new Minister of Transport, a non-French-speaking appointee of the Harper government Lisa Raitt before the end of the month. They do not wish to discontinue rail service but want answers to their questions about MMA and the safety of the rail system as managed by MMA.

QUESTION: How long does it take to apply manual brakes on 11 wagons, and is the person doing this remunerated for the time it takes to do this? I read that it can take up to 2 hours so would like a reply from an experienced person. TIA


edit on 16-7-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 16 2013 @ 12:42 PM
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Originally posted by aboutface


QUESTION: How long does it take to apply manual brakes on 11 wagons, and is the person doing this remunerated for the time it takes to do this? I read that it can take up to 2 hours so would like a reply from an experienced person. TIA


edit on 16-7-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)


It takes approximately 30 seconds to apply a hand brake. Add about an additional 30 seconds to walk from one brake to the next and you have about 1 minute per brake. This is a very generous estimate. I would expect to take less than five minutes to apply 11 hand brakes (in the summer and in good weather. It can take MUCH longer in the winter!). If I took 11 minutes, my engineer would be all out twisted about it taking so long.

Rather than being compensated additionally for securing the train, it is actually a requirement to ensure your train is secured BEFORE YOUR HOURS OF SERVICE EXPIRE. In an emergency a rail employee is allowed to exceed the hours of service to secure the train. There is no allowance for leaving a train unattended and not properly secured. Whether an employee is compensated for exceeding the hours of service (overtime) depends on specific labor agreements one works under. Some people I work with receive overtime after 12 hours on duty. I don't until I have exceeded 16 hours.



posted on Jul, 21 2013 @ 11:07 AM
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Insight: Canadian train disaster a dark turn for rail veteran
reply to post by Montana
 





Karl Plume, P.J. Huffstutter and Ernest Scheyder 3 hours ago


Some information on Edward A. Burkhardt owner of rail line.
reuters/ yahoo




Burkhardt, who is about to turn 75, stands by MMA's safety record and noted the company had no serious derailments before Lac-Megantic. "I have never been involved with anything remotely approaching this in my whole life," he said.



A blinding flash of orange light jarred Weyauwega residents awake before dawn on March 4, 1996. An 81-car freight train had been barreling toward the farm town in central Wisconsin when it jumped a broken rail. The train's propane and petroleum cargo had caught fire and exploded. Gerald Poltrock II, a rookie local police officer, thought it was a prank when the dispatcher called to say the city "blew up."





The company reported more accidents than 93 percent of the 288 small rail lines (with fewer than 400,000 employee hours per year) that had accidents in that period.





"These are terrible things to occur, events I take very seriously and personally," Burkhardt said. "I have worked diligently to improve safety performance, and when one fails it is a personal failure."


So what do I think; trains are big and possibly dangerous, should we let them be operated as some game of how low can you go in operating cost? Or should there be minimum requirements to doing business like must other areas of business?



(Rail World is an investment and management company that Burkhardt formed after leaving Wisconsin Central in 1999.)




Weeks later, the new MMA management cut salaries by 25 percent, reduced payroll from 350 to about 275, and shelved plans to spend $20 million on infrastructure improvements.

Of coarse I quoted lines that back my thoughts, read the whole article. Back when I was looking at his company think I saw less than 1 million total revenue per year.



In February 1997, following the accident, Wisconsin Central agreed to federal safety inspection directives to roll out widespread improvements to its tracks, railroad cars and locomotives. For example, it agreed to spend at least 30 percent more on track improvements. The company also underwrote repair costs to the town, voluntarily paid Weyauwega residents $50 for each day they were dislocated, and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to non-profit groups in the area. More than 20 families and several businesses sued the company, which settled for an undisclosed sum. Wisconsin Central estimated the total cost of the derailment at around $28 million, according to regulatory filings.



posted on Jul, 21 2013 @ 12:05 PM
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One thing I have noticed about this whole affair is that no one has questioned the maintenance records of the rail cars.
This is apparently an company that has been making cut backs. I wonder if they cut corners on maintenance.



posted on Jul, 23 2013 @ 08:42 PM
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Originally posted by Beartracker16
One thing I have noticed about this whole affair is that no one has questioned the maintenance records of the rail cars.
This is apparently an company that has been making cut backs. I wonder if they cut corners on maintenance.


Good observation. While this may not have been reported on yet, the head of the TSB's biography on the TSB's official investigation page ought to reassure us all somewhat that this would be one of his preoccupations. I guess we ought to stay tuned for more info down the road. They are finishing up the field phase and will be entering the next phase of the investigation which includes an examination of all the data including inspection reports.



posted on Jul, 23 2013 @ 09:10 PM
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Originally posted by donlashway



Insight: Canadian train disaster a dark turn for rail veteran
reply to post by Montana
 



Karl Plume, P.J. Huffstutter and Ernest Scheyder 3 hours ago

Some information on Edward A. Burkhardt owner of rail line.
reuters/ yahoo



Burkhardt, who is about to turn 75, stands by MMA's safety record and noted the company had no serious derailments before Lac-Megantic. "I have never been involved with anything remotely approaching this in my whole life," he said.



A blinding flash of orange light jarred Weyauwega residents awake before dawn on March 4, 1996. An 81-car freight train had been barreling toward the farm town in central Wisconsin when it jumped a broken rail. The train's propane and petroleum cargo had caught fire and exploded. Gerald Poltrock II, a rookie local police officer, thought it was a prank when the dispatcher called to say the city "blew up."





The company reported more accidents than 93 percent of the 288 small rail lines (with fewer than 400,000 employee hours per year) that had accidents in that period.





"These are terrible things to occur, events I take very seriously and personally," Burkhardt said. "I have worked diligently to improve safety performance, and when one fails it is a personal failure."


So what do I think; trains are big and possibly dangerous, should we let them be operated as some game of how low can you go in operating cost? Or should there be minimum requirements to doing business like must other areas of business?



(Rail World is an investment and management company that Burkhardt formed after leaving Wisconsin Central in 1999.)




Weeks later, the new MMA management cut salaries by 25 percent, reduced payroll from 350 to about 275, and shelved plans to spend $20 million on infrastructure improvements.

Of coarse I quoted lines that back my thoughts, read the whole article. Back when I was looking at his company think I saw less than 1 million total revenue per year.



In February 1997, following the accident, Wisconsin Central agreed to federal safety inspection directives to roll out widespread improvements to its tracks, railroad cars and locomotives. For example, it agreed to spend at least 30 percent more on track improvements. The company also underwrote repair costs to the town, voluntarily paid Weyauwega residents $50 for each day they were dislocated, and donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to non-profit groups in the area. More than 20 families and several businesses sued the company, which settled for an undisclosed sum. Wisconsin Central estimated the total cost of the derailment at around $28 million, according to regulatory filings.



The transport committee held an emergency meeting Tuesday to talk about rail regulations in general, and how to improve them.

New Democrat MP Olivia Chow, who sits on the committee, says she hopes MPs can at least find out why the federal government did not enact previously recommended regulations designed to improve rail safety.
(OP note: The recommendations were apparently made several times before and ignored. The Transportation has been inactive for a while. The Harper government has made no secret of how it despises committees.)

Following the disaster, the federal Transportation Safety Board — which is still investigating — asked for changes in regulations governing rail traffic. Transport Canada responded Tuesday with the directives.

Transport Canada has issued an emergency directive requiring at least two crew members to work trains that transport dangerous goods.

It also says no locomotive attached to one or more loaded tank cars transporting dangerous goods can be left unattended on a main track.

In addition, the department is giving rail operators five days to ensure that all unattended locomotives on a main track or sidings be protected from unauthorized entry into the cab.


These emergency directives are effective immediately and expire in December. Source

A few days ago, some searchers walked off the job. They feared that they would not be paid, as standing in sweltering heat with mask and oxygen tank in a toxic area was just too much for some of them. It seems the problem is that Mr. Burkhardt stopped sending money to the cleanup contractors. The Quebec government stepped in and guaranteed they would be paid, promising 60 million which the federal government said it is also freeing up today. Mr B. has been sent some serious lawyers' letters.
edit on 23-7-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 23 2013 @ 09:52 PM
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UPDATE ON SEARCH

One more person has been identified, bringing the total to 29.

In the past few days, several dozen burned automobiles from the disaster area were removed and their ownership traced. As a result, the total of people believed to have died was downgraded to 47 from 50.
The remains of five people have yet to be found.

There is a concert at this very moment on the Plains of Abraham given by Sir Paul McCartney wherein he has issued a special invitation to the people of Lac-Mégantic to attend free of charge. Close to 1000 people boarded school buses earlier and set out for the concert.


Oil spill numbers:
7.2M litres carried by train.
5.7M litres spilled into the environment.
900,000 litres left inside remaining 9 intact freight cars.
600,000 litres recovered by cleanup crews
(numbers from CBC site)


edit on 23-7-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 27 2013 @ 09:47 AM
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UPDATE

Today is an Official day of mourning in Lac-Mégantic.
There will be a commemorative service for the 47 victims, a mass held at the same church of the famous picture of the Sacred Heart statue in front of the inferno.
The mass will be live streamed this morning at 11AM (in half an hour) here

The searchers will pause this morning, but will continue until the remains of the five people still missing are found.

They recount how they were standing in a sea of black ashes when suddenly a white and green butterfly came into the scene. They all stopped to watch this single sign of life flitting among the ruins until it alighted on a pile of ashes. They immediately began do dig below and there they discovered the body of a young woman.

Three more bodies have been identified.

The rail wagons have now been removed from the scene of the disaster.


edit on 27-7-2013 by aboutface because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 1 2013 @ 11:15 AM
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FINAL UPDATE

This morning the Quebec provincial police (La Sureté) has announced that it is calling off is search for the missing 5 bodies. The field stage of the investigations is now over for the police, forensics and TSB as they move into the next phase.

The MMA says it cannot pay for the cleanup as its insurance company has not released funds yet. However there seems some doubt that even if they do, the cash-strapped company may try to save itself from bankruptcy. link

My deepest condolences to all who lost loved ones in this runaway train accident and explosion. 200 families continue to live as evacuees from the site.



posted on Aug, 10 2013 @ 08:02 PM
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The US FRA response is in....

And it's a pathetic FAIL!

FRA Emergency Order 28

To someone unfamiliar with the rail industry, I am sure this document sounds great. All kinds of restrictions and requirements! However, what you may not realize is that there are no changes here. Most of these 'new' requirements have been in place for years, if not longer.

So what are the REAL regulatory changes contained in this emergency order? Well, it all boils down to three things.

1. The railroads are required to develop individual plans for hazardous material trains that must be left unattended. Note that the FRA does not make a 'minimum standard' for these plans. AS A MATTER OF FACT THE FRA IS REFUSING TO EVEN REQUIRE THESES PLANS TO BE APPROVED! Just make up any old thing, whatever works for the railroad. They don't care.

2. No hazardous trains can be left unattended by at least one employee. Oh, unless the railroad wants to, in which case that's fine by the FRA as long as cab doors are locked, or the reverser lever removed. Many railroads do not have locks on the cab doors, so they will just have the crews take the reverser with them when they leave. Anyone want to guess how hard it is to get a reverser lever? 4 bucks on Ebay Do you feel safe now?

So, as we can see these two requirements will have zero effect on the railroads, and will not make us one single bit safer. What's left? Well, since we aren't putting any additional responsibility on the corporations, the only other option is the employees, right?

3. Any employee that can be found to be even marginally at fault is subject to a civil fine of $105,000 and 'may be subjected to criminal charges".

There you go folks. The FRA's solution to the danger of unattended hazardous trains is...... LEAVE THE CORPORATIONS ALONE- FINE THE EMPLOYEES!!!!

I feel so safe now.



posted on Aug, 10 2013 @ 08:11 PM
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To anyone who may not understand FRA stands for Federal Railroad Administration. It is the same type of bureaucracy as the FAA is for the airlines. They are supposed to keep the public safe by controlling corporations, but in recent decades they have both been bought by the industries they are supposed to regulate.



posted on Aug, 10 2013 @ 11:18 PM
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reply to post by Montana
 


Holy crow! How misleading their promotional announcement was! Here they had us believing that they were taking important new action. So much for employees. Remember the days of job security?

The pres of MM&A filed for bankruptcy protection and obtained it both in Canada and the USA when confronted with the cleanup bill so far. We all know this means trading assets from one of his companies to another etc. before he lets MM&A slip into oblivion. The company was only insured for 25 million. Hell my car insurance is for over 5 million. Think about it.

When asked directly, politicians at all levels admitted that the taxpayers would most likely be stuck with the bill.


**As for the topic you raise, you know I think this is really important new information and though you are welcome to link back here, it genuinely deserves its own thread.



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