You would probably have to turn over a lot of rocks to find a single resident of Canada who has never heard of the Lac-Mégantic train disaster. Three years ago, a train hauling oil tankers derailed and exploded, leaving 47 people dead and the town of the Lac-Mégantic literally in ruins.
In response to this disaster, class action litigation was initiated by Rochon Genova LLP of Toronto. The action alleges that at least two oil companies responsible for producing the shale liquids present on the train did not provide enough warnings about transporting these products.
Shale liquids are extremely explosive and may pose more risks when shipping via rail than similar products do. When any combustible materials are shipped by rail, it is the responsibility of those involved to adequately divulge the dangers associated with these products. This ensures that all available safety measures will be implemented to keep Canadian citizens safe.
The train disaster makes its way into news reports about rail shipping and transportation periodically. In September, the disaster was mentioned once again when the Transportation Safety Board of Canada announced that it wants all of Canada’s trains to be equipped with voice and video recorders in the interests of safety.
It is safe to say that no one would argue against the implementation of any safety measures in the transportation industry. However, some experts believe the recorders will do little to prevent train disasters like the one in Lac-Mégantic. These experts believe that more significant rail safety improvements are necessary to avoid another Lac-Mégantic.
Rail safety in Canada is not likely to improve overnight. The families of the victims of Lac-Mégantic can continue hoping that the ongoing class action litigation and the frequent news stories featuring the disaster will prompt those in authority to continue pursuing safety in the rail industry.
Source: Rochon Genova LLP, “Lac-Mégantic Class Action,” accessed Oct. 11, 2016