Tag Archives: Disaster compensation

Oil companies pay into compensation fund for Quebec train crash – deny further liability

Repost from The Hill

Oil companies pay into compensation fund for Quebec train crash

By Timothy Cama – 06/11/15 08:35 AM EDT
This July 16, 2013, file photo shows firefighters and workers at the crash site of a train derailment that killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. A watchdog from the Justice Department is looking for transparency on dollar amounts that oil companies are paying into a fund for victims of the crash. —Ryan Remiorz/Associated Press

Oil companies have contributed tens of millions of dollars toward a fund to compensate victims of a major 2013 oil train disaster in Quebec, Canada, that killed 47.

Companies like Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Marathon Oil Corp., ConocoPhillips Co. and Irving Oil Ltd. have paid into the $345 million fund, though they deny responsibility for the events on the train transporting their products, The Wall Street Journal reports.

If courts in the United States and Canada approve the oil companies’ role in the fund, the companies will be shielded from liability for any negligence they had involving the disaster in Lac-Megantic, including for failing to test the oil’s vulnerability.

The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd., which ran the train that derailed and exploded, filed for bankruptcy shortly after the incident.

But its court-appointed trustee said the oil companies knew that the oil was volatile and dangerous.

The oil companies have responded that their responsibility ended when they extracted the oil.

Most of the companies that contributed to the fund declined to comment to The Wall Street Journal. Marathon Oil told the newspaper that its contribution is not an acknowledgment of liability.

The Quebec disaster led officials in both Canada and the United States to pay new attention to the use of oil trains, which has increased dramatically in recent years along with oil production in places like the Bakken shale region.

It has resulted in rules in both countries that will ban the use of the oldest tank cars for oil in the coming years, as well as speed restrictions and other operational regulations.

Some Democratic lawmakers, led by Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), have pushed for regulations limiting oil volatility in rail transport.

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    Some Lac-Mégantic property owners receive compensation: first installment from Quebec

    Repost from The Montreal Gazette

    Lac-Mégantic property owners receive compensation instalment from Quebec

    Presse Canadienne, November 24, 2014
    The North Dakota Petroleum Council released a study Tuesday, May 20, 2014 at the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference and Expo in Bismarck saying Bakken oil is similar to other light crudes and does not pose a greater risk to transport by rail than other flammable liquids. Oil trains in the U.S. and Canada were involved in at least eight major accidents during the last year, including an explosion in Lac-Megantic.
    In this July 9, 2013 file photo, workers comb through debris after an oil train derailed and exploded in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47. | Paul Chiasson / THE CANADIAN PRESS

    The provincial government announced Monday that the first instalment of money set aside to compensate owners of buildings destroyed in the explosion and fire in Lac Mégantic has been transferred.

    A total of $1.8 million has been sent to the town. A notary will disburse the funds to nine owners. Others will be paid later.

    On July 6, 2013, a train belonging to the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway loaded with crude oil rolled unmanned into Lac Mégantic and derailed, causing explosions and fireballs.

    This is just the first phase of the payout scheme. Other property owners will be getting cheques totalling $8 million before the end of the year.

    In total, the government has earmarked $60 million for the reconstruction and relaunch of the town after the devastating fire that killed 47 people and decimated the downtown area.

    Of that $60 million, a maximum of $37 million has been set aside to compensate people whose properties were damaged.

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