Canadian Manufacturing

Bombardier criticized for poor maintenance in deadly Montreal tanker truck blast

The tanker, which was owned by Bombardier Aerospace, suffered an emergency brake malfunction on an elevated highway last summer, causing a deadly pileup involving three other trucks and one car


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MONTREAL—Poorly maintained emergency brakes on a tanker truck were a key factor in a spectacular explosion in Montreal last summer that killed the driver of another vehicle.

A report by Quebec’s employee health and safety board, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) says the tanker, which was owned by Bombardier Aerospace, stopped on an elevated highway last Aug. 9 when its emergency brakes were suddenly activated.

That led to a pileup involving three other trucks and one car.

Gilbert Prince, a truck driver with Enterprise Gestion Georges & Robert (EGGR), died when his fuel-laden tanker rammed into a flatbed truck from behind and exploded.

The report is harshly critical of Bombardier because it says its vehicle had previously experienced similar brake problems. However the report is careful to note that ultimately it was a combination of factors that led to the accident, and the fault did not rest solely on Bombardier.

Dramatic images of the accident were seen around the world.

The following passages are translated from the French version CNESST’s report of the investigation:

“The Bombardier tanker stopped in an untimely manner following the untimely tripping of the interlocking device installed under the metal curtain and activating the emergency brakes. Widespread wear and tear of the mechanism and improper tightening of the bolts allowed the road truck induced vibrations to open the slide locks and lift the curtain, which was sufficient to activate the brake system.”

“Bombardier did not adequately monitor the untimely shutdowns in 2016 with its tank trucks. The investigation found that stops similar to August 9 occurred earlier in the year in 2016, including two on the Metropolitan Expressway, in the same area as the accident. An adequate follow-up of these events would have made it possible, inter alia, to take the necessary measures to comply with the standards of the tank truck concerning safety devices to prevent untimely braking.”

“The distance separating the EGGR truck from the Givesco truck-platform, 31 metres, was insufficient to allow the driver to avoid the collision. Indeed, considering the weight and the speed of movement of the truck of EGGR, a distance of 76.7 m was necessary to immobilize the vehicle.”

See the full CNESST report here.


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