The Council of Canadians mourns the death and destruction in the town of Lac-Mégantic, Quebec.
On Friday night, 73 cars from the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway broke loose, rolled downhill and crashed into the downtown of the community located about 250 kilometres north of Montreal. At this point, 5 people are confirmed dead, 40 people are missing, and 2,000 people have had to leave their homes due to danger and concerns about the air quality. Some 30 buildings including historical and community landmarks have been destroyed, along with the municipal library, the grocery store, a downtown park, and a popular bar.
A boil water advisory remains in effect, but the mayor says there is no known contamination to the town’s drinking water reserves. But the town’s namesake lake and the Chaudière River have been contaminated. Quebec’s environment minister says an estimated 100,000 litres of oil have leaked into the river. 80 kilometres downstream the community of Saint-Georges now worries about its drinking water.
Questions about the exact contents of the railway cars still remain, but they were reportedly carrying 50,000 barrels of crude oil from North Dakota.
Prior to crashing in Lac-Mégantic, the train had passed through the heart of Toronto on the CP Rail tracks. Irving Oil says the train was destined for their plant in Saint John, New Brunswick. Residents of Lac-Mégantic are asking why such shipments capable of such destruction were allowed to pass through towns and cities.
Photo: Presse Canadienne/ Ryan Remiorz