July 19, 2013

Class-action suit initiated against Maine company in train crash

By Tom Bell tbell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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People react as church bells chime 50 times for the victims of the July 6 train crash and blaze in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, Canada, on Saturday. Residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against the railroad.

The Associated Press

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In this July 6 photo, flames and smoke rise from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada, devastating the downtown and killing at least 50. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)


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CLICK HERE to read the petition for the class-action lawsuit.

He said he wonders how long the cash-strapped Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway can survive before it files for bankruptcy. The company is based in Hermon, outside Bangor.

Because Canadian authorities consider the disaster area a crime scene, the railroad has been unable to repair the track. As a result, its lines in Maine have been severed from its lines in Quebec and Vermont, and the company has lost much of its freight business.

On Tuesday, the company laid off 79 of its 179 employees, with its work force in Maine bearing 60 of the layoffs.

Hardenbergh said Montreal, Maine & Atlantic will go bankrupt if it is not allowed to fix its rails and resume its normal freight business. He said the railroad would probably run out of money in a matter of weeks.

Hardenbergh said Burkhardt will likely try to sell the railroad before it goes bankrupt to keep the business intact. He said it's complicated to sell a railroad after a bankruptcy case is filed.

"Ed is a guy who is concerned about his employees and his customers," he said. "He would not want the railroad to go through the trouble of bankruptcy if he can avoid it."

The most likely buyer, he said, is Irving Oil. Irving owns the Eastern Maine Railway Co., which connects with the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway at Brownville Junction in Maine.

A spokeswoman for Irving Oil told The Associated Press that the company sent personnel to the crash site and provided firefighting foam within hours of the disaster.

"We did not own or control the crude oil or its transportation at any time," Carolyn Van der Veen said in an email.

Officials at World Fuel Services and Dakota Plains didn't return messages seeking comment Thursday.

Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at:


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Additional Photos

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The downtown core lays in ruins as fire fighters continue to water smoldering rubble Sunday, July 7, 2013 in Lac Megantic, Quebec after a train derailed ignited tanker cars carrying crude oil. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

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Workers comb through the debris Tuesday, July 9, 2013 in Lac-Magantic, Quebec. A fiery oil train derailment caused explosions and fires that devasted the town. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)


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