Friday, July 26, 2013


Sûreté du Québec investigator carries a box away from the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Inc. office in Farnham, Que., on Thursday.As mourners prepare for a Saturday mass and memorial service for those who were literally incinerated to death in the Lac-Mégantic disaster, police raided the Canadian head office of the MMA rail company in Farnham, roughly 2 1/2 hours west of Lac-Mégantic.

(Photo left, via The Star, photographer: Ryan Remiorz, Investigator leaves with confiscated material from MMA rail company during Farnham raid.)

Inspector Michel Forget told reporters in Lac-Mégantic, "We will be in Farnham as long as it takes to gather all the evidence we’re looking for there." 
Via Global News, video image 
Inspector Michel Forget
The 15 member Farmham investigative team reportedly has uncovered evidence in the raid but is not discussing it at this time.

Inspector Forget said that Lac-Mégantic police would be working with other police forces in Canada or the U.S., and that while there are no other raids at the moment, other organizations are investigating.

MMA chairman Ed Burkhardt (shown right, Financial Post, photographer: Ryan Remiorz) was questioned for hours by provincial police during his infamous visit to Lac-Mégantic.

Tyler Anderson/National Post Lac-Mégantic Mayor Collette Roy-LaRouche (shown left, via National Post, photographer: Tyler Anderson) who has been praised for efforts in uniting the town said the town was left with a 4 million dollar environmental clean-up tab because MMA failed to pay companies it hired to remove the crude oil.  The mayor said the crews would have left, so the community had no choice but to pay for it.  The mayor sent a letter demanding reimbursement with a deadline that passed yesterday.

Dario Ayala/Postmedia News

In the photo above (via National Post, photographer: Daria Ayala), Mayor Collette Roy-LaRouce and associates publicly present the town's letter insisting upon the millions of dollars originally promised by the rail company to remove the crude oil contaminating the environment.

Meanwhile millions in various other bills continue to pile up and the lawsuits are starting to mount including wrongful-death actions in an Illinois court against Rail World, MMA, Burkhardt and several U.S. petroleum companies connected to the disaster; also, a motion in a Quebec court to file a class action. 

The Saturday memorial service will be broadcast live with the governor of Maine also attending.  Search crews have found 42 bodies at this point, with 5 more believed missing.  Authorities say that their remains may never be recovered and that they are investigating whether trains still operating are safe. 

The Edmonton Journal reported on Wednesday that 5.6 million liters of oil spilled in Lac Megantic, though journalists write that it may be weeks before the extent of the damage is even known.   From the Montreal Gazette:
Of the 72 tankers, which were carrying 100,000 litres each, only nine withstood the impact. Twenty tankers were completely emptied, and an additional 43 — with an estimated 670,000 residual litres of crude oil among them — were drained and moved in the cleanup efforts following the deadly explosion.
Heading Into Town

APRIL 19, 2013 FILE PHOTOThe Maine governor Paul LePage (shown left via NY Daily News, photographer: Robert F. Bukaty) is a republican who was elected in 2010 with the support of Florida's Jeb Bush and Tea Party organizers.  He is known for making controversial statements, such as attacking his democratic opponent in the last election with a sexually vulgar phrase, comparing the I.R.S. to Nazis, publicly describing government managers as "corrupt," telling the Portland, Maine branch of the N.A.A.C.P. to "kiss my butt," and calling protesters "idiots."  (More here.)  He recently made a radio address to the people of Lac-Mégantic in both English and French becoming the first Maine governor to ever do this (and instead) with language.  Governor LePage said that he was invited by Pauline Marois to attend the services.  He is described as advocating newer train models to transport oil.  The governor is slated to visit the town and meet with the Quebec premiere and other Canadian officials prior to the mass and memorial services.  Governor LePage is running for reelection with a Democratic Party poll showing him doing poorly against Democrat Michael Michaud but for the independent candidacy of Eliot Cutler.  

A large number of Maine residents have family and roots in Quebec;  the train was bound into the state while docked overnight in Lac-Mégantic which is close to the Maine border.  Rail World is based in Chicago where Ed Burkhardt hails from.  Below, two walkers follow along the train tracks leading into the now fully decimated town center (via CTV/photographer Jacques Boissinot).

Ben Harper in his original Power of the Gospel, as blogged in Witness.

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