Canada toughens train rules after deadly disaster
TORONTO (AP) — Canadian transportation authorities banned one-man crews for trains with dangerous goods Tuesday, responding to calls for tougher regulations after an oil train derailment in Quebec killed 47 people.
Transport Canada also said trains with dangerous goods will not be allowed to be left unattended on a main track. Hand brakes must be applied to trains left one hour or more.
The July 6 tragedy occurred when a runaway train carrying 72 carloads of crude derailed, hurtled down an incline and slammed into downtown Lac-Megantic. Several train cars exploded and 40 buildings were leveled. The unattended Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway train had been parked overnight on a rail line before it came loose.
"The disaster brought to light several industry practices which have caused some concern," Gerard McDonald, assistant deputy minister of safety and security at Transport Canada, said. "Given that and with an abundance of precaution, we thought it would be prudent to implement these measures now."
Transport Canada says the cause of the derailment remains unknown. Canada's Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the accident, had asked for changes in regulations governing rail traffic.
Transport Canada also is giving rail operators five days to ensure nobody without authorization can enter the cab of unattended locomotives on a main track or sidings.
Meanwhile, the town of Lac-Megantic is taking legal action against Montreal, Maine & Atlantic.
Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche said the rail company has not yet paid any of the workers it hired to clean up the crude oil that leaked from dozens of tanker cars. She said at a news conference that the town paid the workers $4 million after some threatened to walk off the job. Lawyers have been asked to inform the rail company it must reimburse the money immediately, Roy Laroche said.
The company did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.