Canadian Manufacturing

Lac-Megantic: Crude oil in tankers was ‘not accurately documented’

Transportation Safety Board of Canada lab report said two MMA trains were carrying mislabelled oil



GATINEAU, Que.—Federal safety investigators confirmed in a new report the crude oil aboard the train that burst into flames in Lac-Megantic, Que., last summer was not identified correctly.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) released a lab report this week that found the hazard level of the oil being carried in tank cars of the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA) Railway train that derailed and exploded in the tiny Quebec town July 6, 2013, “was not accurately documented.”

The Bakken crude was as flammable as gasoline, the TSB said.

According to the agency, samples were collected from nine tank cars that were located at the end of the train that did not derail in the incident.

Those cars were moved to nearby Nantes, Que., about 10 kilometres northwest of Lac-Megantic, following the incident.

“No attempt was made to collect samples from the derailed tank cars since all were exposed to the post-derailment fire to some extent,” the TSB said in its report.

The TSB said oil samples were also taken from two tank cars from another MMA train located in Farnham, Que., that was also carrying crude.

Samples from both trains should have been identified as a Class 3 Dangerous Good, and further divided into packing group (PG) II, a medium hazardous flammable liquid.

The oil aboard the trains was identified as a dangerous good having the least hazardous characteristics.

The crude oil samples were sent to four external labs for testing, according to the agency.

“The large quantities of spilled crude oil, the rapid rate of release and the oil’s high volatility and low viscosity were likely the major contributors to the large post-derailment fireball and pool fire,” the TSB reports reads.

The incident levelled the centred of the town when it derailed and burst into flames, killing an estimated 47 people.

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