Lac-Mégantic derailment investigators search railway's offices

Quebec provincial police investigators were at the offices of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway on Thursday as a part of their investigation into the fatal train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Que.

Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche says legal action against Montreal, Maine & Atlantic will proceed

Quebec provincial police Sgt. Benoit Richard said investigators are seizing evidence at the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway offices. (CBC)

Quebec provincial police investigators were at the offices of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway today as a part of their investigation into the fatal train derailment in Lac-Mégantic, Que.

Police Sgt. Benoit Richard confirmed that police had a warrant and would be seizing evidence.

MM&A's offices are in Farnham, Que., about an hour east of Montreal.

The railway owned the train that was carrying crude oil when it derailed and caused several explosions at the heart of Lac-Mégantic's downtown core on July 6, killing 47.

Insp. Michel Forget of the Sûreté du Québec said 15 investigators were on the scene at MM&A's offices.

He couldn't comment on the details of the search warrant, but did confirm they were looking for evidence related to a criminal investigation.

Forget said that the investigation is local so far, but may expand beyond the borders of Quebec or even Canada, in the search for evidence of criminal negligence.

MM&A is headquartered in Hermon, Maine. Its Lac-Mégantic route is part of a vast expansion in rail shipments of crude oil throughout North America that occurred as oil output soared in Canada and North Dakota, as pipelines have run out of space.

So far, 42 of the 47 victims of the explosion have been found, and of those, 31 have been identified.

Forget of the SQ and the coroner's office spokeswoman said no other bodies had been found in the search efforts.

Forget said they've been looking in three particular areas where they believe the remains of the last five people may be found.

The search in one of the three areas has concluded with no results. He said searches will continue in the other two zones.

No word from MM&A

Lac-Mégantic Mayor Colette Roy-Laroche said Thursday afternoon that MM&A had not replied to a letter of formal notice issued 48 hours ago demanding they repay the town for clean-up costs.

As a result, she said, the city's officials and the provincial government are taking legal steps to ensure that the rail company repays Lac-Mégantic for the $4 million it has so far paid to clean-up crews.

Roy-Laroche said the town had to pay the contractors hired by MM&A to ensure the clean-up work continued.

She was disappointed by the lack of response, if not surprised.

"I wish the company would behave like a good corporate citizen," she said.

More work to do on rail safety, Chow says

Thursday afternoon, NDP transport critic Olivia Chow also spoke in Lac-Mégantic. She said she was pleased with Transport Canada's new emergency regulations, but more needed to be done to ensure rail safety in Canada.

"They're long overdue," she said.

"I'm glad we're now back to two people rather than one operator in the train. I'm glad that we will never leave dangerous cargo unattended on main lines, that the rules on brakes are clearer. I'm glad those emergency regulations are now in place. But there's so much more we can do," Chow continued.

She said using double-barrel cars instead of the thin material currently used for tankers should be looked at, and she supports municipalities who want to know what freight trains are transporting through their backyards.