Deadly derailed train was assembled at Cote Saint-Luc rail yard; residents upset
Published Wednesday, July 10, 2013 5:32PM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, July 10, 2013 8:21PM EDT
Some residents of Cote Saint-Luc are upset to learn the derailed train in Lac-Megantic was assembled at their local rail yard, and travelled through Farnham before heading to Nantes, where it was parked for the night before it came loose.
Citizens there have long complained about the noise and pollution of the train, but now many want to know if they need to be worried about safety.
“Sometimes they're barrelling through,” said Irving Itman, who has been living in Cote Saint-Luc since the 1960s. His house is right by the tracks.
Every year, Itman said, there are more and more trains.
“They start up and it's like an earthquake; an earthquake at two in the morning,” he said.
In 1995, he joined the Cote Saint-Luc Train Committee, whose goal was to look into safety issues.
“Speed and hazardous materials, noise, vibrations, hours of operation,” he said were all issues to be addressed.
They did win some battles, such as slowing the trains’ speed through town and repairing some of the tracks.
In 2001, they lined up a meeting with former federal transport minister David Collenette.
Itman was hopeful that would lead to even bigger changes, but it didn’t.
“Then 9/11 happened in New York and our situation was pushed aside and never brought up again,” he said.
Frustrated, the committee eventually disbanded, as rail tanker traffic kept growing.
“(It’s) several times a day and we're talking trains of 30 to 40 tankers,” he said, adding that he worries one day there will be an accident in his backyard.
“It could be one wheel that jams and the thing is derailed,” he said.
Cote Saint-Luc borough Mayor Anthony Housefather said he knows many citizens are thinking about their city's trains
He asked for a meeting with CP Rail following the Lac-Megantic disaster, but said he still feels the federal government must change the laws
“The question is why is the railway is not required by the federal government to communicate with the municipalities the materials it’s bringing through those municipalities. Why is a railroad not required to have personnel on the train at all times if it's carrying toxic material or oil?” he said.
Housefather said he knows an accident is always a possibility, but insists his city is equipped to deal with an emergency.
“The one thing I could say is because our rail yards are busy urban rail yards, they're monitored 24 by 7, by CP so trains would not be left alone in our rail yards,” he said. “This particular incident that occurred probably couldn't have happened.”
Itman is still not convinced, adding that he’s planning to restart the Cote Saint-Luc Train Committee.
“This is not something that can be swept under the carpet,” he said.