TSB issues safety letters regarding Lac-Megantic

by MM&D staff

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec—The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has told Transport Canada (TC) that action needs to be taken on two separate issues that played a role in the Lac-Megantic Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA) train derailment disaster.

It has issued what it calls urgent Safety Advisory Letters—one regarding how trains are secured and one regarding the transportation of dangerous goods—to the federal government department.

In the first letter, the TSB has “determined that the braking force applied was insufficient to hold the train on the 1.2 percent descending slope”. As a result of that conclusion it is asking Transport Canada “to review the Canadian Rail Operating Rules (CROR) 112 [Securing Equipment] and the related railway special instructions to ensure that equipment and trains left unattended are properly secured in order to prevent unintended movements”.

The second advisory asks the department “to review all railway operating procedures to ensure that trains carrying dangerous goods are not left unattended on a main track”.

The TSB has also offered a recap of the actions it has taken so far in investigating the accident that claimed 42 lives and left eight others unaccounted for and presumed dead. Those actions include:

  • having downloaded key information from the locomotive event recorder and braking unit
  • inspected the tracks, and conducted a site survey, including using photogrammetry and videography to determine track grade and position
  • conducted mechanical inspections, photographed 22 tank cars to date, and collected sample pieces of the tank cars for metallurgical analysis
  • taking 3D laser imaging with the assistance of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to record three-dimensional data of the accident scene and different pieces of the wreckage
  • collected data from Transport Canada in order to examine regulatory oversight and aspects such as inspections and train operations (one-man crews), as well as MMA’s safety management systems
  • taken samples of the products inside the tank cars and reviewing shipping documents to ensure data about the shipments is accurate
  • conducted interviews