The bankruptcy attorney for the defunct Montreal, Maine and Atlantic railway says he’s working to establish a settlement fund for victims of the Lac-Mégantic oil train derailment.
The fiery derailment nearly a year ago in the Quebec town killed 47 people and left others homeless. It was the worst rail disaster in 150 years and led to a reassessment of safety regimes for rail cars that carry oil.
The completion of the sale of the assets of MM&A for $15.85 million adds to a settlement fund with hundreds of millions of dollars, says bankruptcy attorney Robert Keach.
"We're in negotiations with people who have liabilities to make a contribution to a significant nine-figure fund. Those negotiations continue," Keach said Monday.
A Canadian class-action awaits certification and numerous claims have been made through U.S. courts, but are currently on hold, he said.
The settlement fund won’t just be needed for the families of victims – there is still considerable cleanup to do in Lac-Mégantic
The total environmental cleanup alone in the town could end up costing between $200 million and $500 million based on early estimates.
The Canadian government issued a certificate of fitness for the railway’s new owner, New York-based Fortress Investment Group, on Monday, completing an important step in handling claims.
Most of the money from the sale will go to creditors.