One Year Ago: The Lac-Mégantic Train Derailment

Lac_megantic_burningThis July, we mark the passage of one year since the tragic train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec in Canada. On July 6th, a 74 car freight train carrying crude oil went off the tracks, leading to the explosion of several tank cars.It became the fourth deadliest rail accident in Canadian history when the explosions destroyed over 30 buildings in Lac-Mégantic and killed 42 people (with another 5 missing and presumed dead).

Regulations in Canada were changed in 2011, two years prior to this incident, to require that tank cars have a thicker shell. This safety standard was changed because of the “high incidence of tank failures during accidents” of the older models. Unfortunately, the older tank car models were still allowed to operate and were therefore still in use on many trains in 2013 – including the train involved in this accident. According to news reports of the incident, the derailed tank cars created a ball of fire that was around 3 times the height of the downtown buildings, rupturing and causing 4 to 6 initial explosions that could be felt up to 2km away from the site.

Our thoughts are with the people of Lac-Mégantic, a town of only 6,000, who are grieving for those lost in this tragic accident last July. They have dealt with the aftermath of this event all year round, banding together as a community to work toward recovery. One of the responses to this event has been an investigation by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada. The organization requested a review of the Canadian Rail Operating Rules from Transport Canada, as well as special securing instructions for railways.

This accident drives home the importance of safety first when transporting goods – regardless of what those goods are. Of course, crude oil classifies as “dangerous goods”, but all rail transport has a responsibility to maintain safe procedures and proper securement at all times. We hope incidents like this can be prevented in the future.

>> Complete Packaging Systems works closely with all rail carriers and shippers to ensure compliance standards are met on a consistent basis. Should you wish for one of our securement specialists to review your loading practices, please do not hesitate to contact us. More from Complete Packaging Systems: