A New Brunswick family says a carpenter hired by CN Rail to fix their house following a freight train derailment near Plaster Rock in January has left their home unsafe and unlivable.
Jeff Levesque, of Wapskee, says when CN burned off the remaining oil in the derailed cars just steps away from his front door, it peeled off the siding and blew out the chimney grout, leaving dark soot and a lingering smell of fire.
When his family was barred from returning home for a couple of days, pipes burst in the bathroom above the kitchen and thousands of litres of dirty water poured down, he said.
Since then, he alleges the carpenter and his assistant put new particle board over wet particle board without drying it or treating it for mould, did not replace any water-damaged walls, failed to install plumbing for a downstairs bathroom, and put a ladder through a picture window.
Levesque said he finally kicked the workers out in February and called CN representative Rick Theberge repeatedly.
"Rick Theberge told me that my claims were ludicrous, that I was just trying to go after more than I should have. Being greedy," Levesque told CBC News.
'Probably Monday, I'm going to be sleeping in a tent on the lawn or something out here.' -Jeff Levesque
Levesque, who lives with his adult son, Caleb, Caleb's girlfriend Sam, a dog and a cat, says CN stopped paying their rent in March and he can no longer afford his mortgage and a separate rent.
"So, probably Monday, I'm going to be sleeping in a tent on the lawn or something out here," he said.
CN's director of public and government affairs Jim Feeny said he could not comment on any specific case.
"But I can tell you our policy is to honour all legitimate, substantiated claims relating to damages that are suffered as a result of a CN incident, the response to that incident, or any remediation that has to be done following that incident," he said on Wednesday.
"We have very good policies regarding claims that have been applied and applied properly to all claims relating to the Plaster Rock derailment. The vast majority of those claims have been settled without incident."
Levesque disagrees and has hired a lawyer, who had a specialist do an assessment.
'This dwelling is non-livable'
"In my opinion, this dwelling is non-livable," disaster restoration specialist Nicholas Mann, of ServiceMaster Restore, wrote in his report, noting proper odour treatments were not done.
Mann estimated it would cost about $160,000 to fix the home properly. Levesque said CN offered him $2,500 after receiving the report.
Levesque said he shook hands with Premier David Alward and the president of CN shortly after the derailment, and both promised he would be back in his house as good as, or better than before.
"What can you say? Hope that people do the right thing," he said.
"When people shake your hand and promise you your home will be fixed, and you'll be fully compensated, and then as soon as the news cameras get turned off, it's, 'Screw you,' and there's no help at all. And what is $2,500 going to do me for smoke damage? It's ridiculous. It's a joke."
A 122-car train derailed on Jan. 7 with 19 cars and a locomotive jumping the tracks.
Five derailed tanker cars were carrying crude oil from Western Canada to an Irving Oil refinery in Saint John, N.B., while four other tankers carried liquefied petroleum gas.
About 150 people living within a two-kilometre radius of the crash site were forced to leave their homes for several days.
A Transportation Safety Board investigation found one of the wheels on the 13th car broke from "fatigue."
The two tank cars that were the primary source of the oil that caused the fire were older Class 111 tank cars, built in 1984 and 1996, the investigators stated in the update.
The investigation continues.