Lawyers: Dangers Ignored in Canadian Train Casualty

Posted by Joseph Keefe
Monday, June 09, 2014

Shippers wrongly moved explosive gas as part of a crude oil delivery that derailed and killed 47 people in a Canadian town last year, lawyers seeking to represent the devastated town in a class action lawsuit are expected to argue in a proceeding that starts on Monday.

Several tank cars exploded with surprising force when the cargo from North Dakota's Bakken energy patch jumped the tracks and detonated in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, last July.

Since that deadly mishap, U.S. officials have warned that Bakken fuel is more volatile than previously thought because of the presence of dangerous gas and have encouraged shippers to bleed off that gas before moving it on the rails.

But lawyers from the Toronto class action law firm Rochon Genova LLP will argue that oil companies were alert to Bakken fuel dangers well before the Lac Megantic tragedy, and failed to handle the fuel safely on the tracks.

Shippers and others in the supply chain "simply ignored the need to take any meaningful steps to properly test, warn, label or classify the oil," according to documents filed last week.

Those allegations have not been tested in court.

Rochon Genova will on Monday argue in the Quebec Superior Court that residents and others who suffered loss due to the accident should treated as a single group of claimants in a class-action.

Although the discovery process has yet to formally begin, police findings and industry paperwork already point to a haphazard shipping process, the law firm said.

For at least eight months before the accident, oil train cargo routinely arrived at the Irving Oil refinery labeled as the least-dangerous class of flammable liquid, and near-empty tankers returned to the field carrying a higher warning, according to a Quebec police report.

A month before the Lac Megantic disaster, an Irving Oil executive noted that fuel testing at the source "is almost non-existent," according to a company Power Point presentation seen by Reuters.

Irving Oil did not respond to a request for comment. Besides the refinery, the plaintiffs are suing other companies that they say handled the fuel, such as World Fuel Services Corp, which arranged the delivery.

World Fuel Services has argued in court filings that the rail disaster was chiefly a human error and nothing in the labeling, or packaging could have changed the outcome.

"While petitioners desire to find a solvent entity - any solvent entity - to compensate for their losses, their allegations simply cannot logically support pinning that liability on WFS," the firm's lawyers said in a filing.

Rochon Genova will also argue that officials at Transport Canada, the federal transportation authority, should answer for lax oversight before the accident. The arguments are expected to last for about two weeks.

The regulator did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


By Patrick Rucker and Euan Rocha

Maritime Reporter July 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds

People & Company News

Missing Person Rescued Near Brackettville

On July 31, Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) agents and CBP Office of Air and Marine rescued a man who was reported missing the previous morning.

Ross is Fleet Manager, Heidmar

Heidmar announced the promotion of Duncan Ross to Fleet Manager. Duncan joined Heidmar’s London office in 2012 as vessel manager.  Prior to joining Heidmar,

Fire Aboard USS Mount Whitney

A fire broke out on board USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) while the ship was in Viktor Lenac Shipyard (Rijeka, Croatia) July 31, 2015. There were no personnel injuries in the fire,

Legal

Missing Person Rescued Near Brackettville

On July 31, Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) agents and CBP Office of Air and Marine rescued a man who was reported missing the previous morning.

Ross is Fleet Manager, Heidmar

Heidmar announced the promotion of Duncan Ross to Fleet Manager. Duncan joined Heidmar’s London office in 2012 as vessel manager.  Prior to joining Heidmar,

LR First to Certify Small Caribbean Ships

LR is the first class society to certify small commercial ships operating in the Caribbean After becoming the first classification society to issue Cargo

Finance

Ross is Fleet Manager, Heidmar

Heidmar announced the promotion of Duncan Ross to Fleet Manager. Duncan joined Heidmar’s London office in 2012 as vessel manager.  Prior to joining Heidmar,

Diana Shipping Nets 2Q Loss

Diana Shipping Inc. today reported a net loss of $14.1 million and net loss attributed to common stockholders of $15.5 million for the second quarter of 2015, compared to net loss of $5.

U.S. Drillers Add Rigs Despite Crude Collapse

U.S. energy firms added 5 oil rigs this week after putting 21 rigs into service last week, the most in over a year, despite a collapse in U.S. crude prices from recent highs in June,

Energy

Optimized Tug-Barge System Designs by Robert Allan

Optimized Tug-Barge System Designs by Robert Allan Ltd. by David R. Connand Robert G. Allan, P.Eng. Some veteran Mississippi pushboats and barges have been

U.S. Drillers Add Rigs Despite Crude Collapse

U.S. energy firms added 5 oil rigs this week after putting 21 rigs into service last week, the most in over a year, despite a collapse in U.S. crude prices from recent highs in June,

West Africa's August Crude Exports to Asia to Slip

West African crude oil exports to Asia were expected to fall to 1.84 million barrels per day (bpd) in August, Reuters data and a survey of traders showed.     Slower

Casualties

Three Rescued on Lake Tahoe

The Coast Guard and multiple agencies rescued three people Wednesday evening after they were reported missing on Lake Tahoe. At 9:45 p.m., Coast Guard Sector

Fire-stricken Icebreaker Overhauled

SENER concludes the Almirante Irizar icebreaker engineering works for re-outfit and overhaul   SENER reports it has completed the engineering works relating to

WGMA Urges Participation in Menhaden Survey

The West Gulf Maritime Association (WGMA) is urging its members with ships arriving at any port in the western US Gulf to participate in the Menhaden survey.

Government Update

Missing Person Rescued Near Brackettville

On July 31, Border Patrol Search Trauma and Rescue (BORSTAR) agents and CBP Office of Air and Marine rescued a man who was reported missing the previous morning.

Fire Aboard USS Mount Whitney

A fire broke out on board USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) while the ship was in Viktor Lenac Shipyard (Rijeka, Croatia) July 31, 2015. There were no personnel injuries in the fire,

Thordon Bearings Secures AK Ferry Contract

Thordon Bearings has received an order to supply its COMPAC system to two Alaska Ferry newbuilds under construction at the Vigor Industrial shipyard in Ketchikan, Alaska.

Insurance

AEU Presents Safety Awards

The American Equity Underwriters, Inc. (AEU) presented its 2014 Safety Awards at the annual American Longshore Mutual Association, Ltd. (ALMA) Conference on July 19, 2015, in Key Biscayne, Fla.

 
 
Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Navigation Offshore Oil Pipelines Port Authority Salvage Ship Electronics Ship Repair Shipbuilding / Vessel Construction Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.1943 sec (5 req/sec)