OTTAWA – The federal government has laid new charges in the 2013 train derailment disaster in Lac-Megantic, including against Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Ltd. and the company’s president.
Six people on both sides of the border have been charged following a Transport Canada investigation that found an insufficient number of handbrakes were applied to the train that barrelled into the Quebec town almost two years ago.
The government says in a release that the investigation under the Railway Safety Act also found the handbrakes were not tested properly.
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada says charges have been laid against both Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Canada and Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Ltd.
The six individuals charged are railway president Robert Grindrod; company executives Lynne Ellen Labonte and Kenneth Strout; train driver Thomas Harding; manager of train operations Jean Demaitre; and the company’s assistant transportation director, Mike Horan. None of the charges has been tested in court.
There are also charges under the federal Fisheries Act for the crude oil that flowed into Lac-Megantic and the Chaudiere River after the deadly accident in July 2013.
Seven people along with the railway companies have been charged with one count under the fisheries protection division of the Fisheries Act for allowing oil to spill or be dumped in the two fish-bearing bodies of water between July 4 and 7, 2013.
All those charged will appear in court in Lac-Megantic on Nov. 12.
The deadly disaster killed 47 people and forced thousands more from their homes as fire from the derailed train destroyed most of the town’s downtown core.
A Transportation Safety Board review found the hand brakes on the train failed as it was parked on a grade, sending it on path into the town’s downtown core. The cars jumped the track, spilling and igniting some six million litres of crude oil.
Already, three former railway employees each face 47 counts of criminal negligence causing death. A conviction carries a maximum life sentence.
Harding, Demaitre and railway traffic controller Richard Labrie have all pleaded not guilty. Their trial is set to start Sept. 8.