Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fight Over Lac-Mégantic Cleanup Costs

The Quebec provincial government has added CP Rail to its list of companies deemed responsible for the cleanup of the Lac-Mégantic disaster. The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) is on the list, of course, as well as the Western Petroleum Company (owners of the rail cars?) and World Fuel Services (the purchaser of the fuel).

The finger-pointing is in full swing. World Fuel Services says they aren't responsible, since they dealt only with CP, and CP subcontracted to MMA. CP is appealing the decision and says they aren't responsible. At least the MMA is not denying they have some responsibility.

Let's face it - nobody is going to step up and say they are responsible if they can avoid it. The cleanup costs are going to be huge (estimated at over $200 million) and the class-action suit(s) are going to pile on too (they're already going after CP). It would be crazy for any company (except MMA) to pay now, before any official reports have come out about the accident.

Fortunately, the water quality is improving. There's no word yet on the tons of contaminated soil in the "red zone" (explosion area) and what is to be done with that.

In other Lac-Mégantic news, the MMA may get an extension to their operating permit since they have said they still have liability insurance. They can operate to October 1 provided they can prove they have liability insurance by August 23.

The CBC is reporting that J.D. Irving is considering purchasing the MMA rail lines. This makes a lot of sense, since the MMA line provides their only direct connection with CP in Quebec (see map).

Here's a few other blogs who have done some analysis of the Lac-Mégantic incident:

Aside: When did the NB Southern web site start referring to the NB&M Railways instead of NB Southern? It looks like someone did a massive search and replace. I looked at archive.org, and apparently the NB Southern web site still said NB Southern on June 21, but now it says NB&M.

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