Three charged in Quebec oil train disaster

 

Three railway workers have been charged with criminal negligence in an oil train derailment and explosion that killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, last summer, the Associated Press reported.

Engineer Thomas Harding, train operations manager Jean Demaitre and traffic controller Richard Labrie were arrested Monday and are scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, the AP reported. Each was charged with 47 counts of criminal negligence, which can result in lifetime jail sentence.

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The Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway, which has since declared bankruptcy, blamed Harding for failing to set the brakes on the train, the AP said. Sixty of the train’s oil tankers came loose in the middle of the night July 6, sped seven miles downhill and derailed in downtown Lac-Megantic. The explosion destroy 30 buildings.

It was the worst railway accident in Canada in more than a century. Along with other recent disasters involving oil trains, it spurred leaders in Canada and the United States to take another look at the safety of crude-by-rail.

In the 10 months since the incident, Canada has announced a phase-out of the type of rail car involved in the explosion and the United States has banned the tanker model from carrying crude oil from the Bakken formation in North Dakota.

Harding’s lawyer said he will plead not guilty, the AP reported.