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More Oil To Be Shipped Through Canada As Railway Gets Bankruptcy Protection

Paul Chiasson /AP

Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, the railway that owned the trains in last month's deadly derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, filed for bankruptcy protection Wednesday.

MM&A says the move is to preserve the value of its assets. Also yesterday, a company called Sun Corp announced that it wants to start shipping oil from the west into Montreal by rail. Sun Corp wants to bring in 400 tankers of oil a day. 

CBC reporter Thomas Daigle  says MM&A could have been in financial trouble even before the derailment.

“The judge yesterday in the court here in Montreal said ‘Why did you only have 25 million dollars?’ That’s not a question he got an answer to, but certainly one he did raise,” Daigle says.

MM&A estimates the cost of the damage and environmental impacts could cost upwards of $200 million, money the company does not have. The Province of Quebec says it will hold MM&A to account for the cleanup costs, but Daigle says so far that hasn’t happened. And the cleanup effort will take time.

“There are six foot piles of rubble down there; part of the downtown core has been leveled. I can tell you just from what I saw that it’s going to take months just to clean up what is down there,” Daigle says. “Not to mention the oil that has seeped into the soil.”

Meanwhile, Sun Corps plans to ship oil by rail into Montreal. The company has already started building tracks, and plans to have 30,000 barrels of crude oil shipped in from western Canada by the end of the year.

“That has a lot of people worried because of everything that’s happened in Lac-Megantic,” says Daigle.

The Canadian government, however, is reminding residents that the vast majority of oil is transported without incident.

“The federal government seems to be open to this idea,” says Daigle.

Ric was a producer for Vermont Edition and host of the VPR Cafe.
A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station WBUR...as a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Annie Russell was VPR's Deputy News Director. She came to VPR from NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered and WNYC's On The Media. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
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