A video apparently showing a train sitting unattended with its engine idling near Lac Megantic a day after the disaster has gone viral, prompting questions from the public about the safety of Canada’s railways.
The video, uploaded to YouTube by a user identified only as “Cobratann,” ostensibly shows a train idling unattended three kilometres outside of the town of Lac-Megantic on July 7, a day after the blast that, at last count, took five lives and left 40 people missing.
“You can see inside, there’s no one there,” the videographer can be heard saying at one point.
According to the video description, the train was on, the door was unlocked and no one was in the vicinity. The videographer says at one point that the train had been idling there for several days.
The train’s engine appears to belong to Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway (MMA), which also operated the train that was involved in the disaster. That train rolled into the town early Saturday morning had also been left unattended, and was the scene of an engine fire several hours before the disaster.
HuffPost has reached to out to MMA for comment.
Leaving the engine running may be a necessity when trains are left unattended. Though the investigation into the incident is ongoing, MMA said over the weekend it believed that the engine shutting down may have caused the incident.
According to the Globe and Mail, MMA said the train engine’s air brakes failed when the engine was shut down, meaning the engine didn’t have the power to keep the train from rolling into Lac-Megantic.
The disaster has raised questions about whether Canada’s railway safety regulations are stringent enough, and whether more precautions should be taken regarding unattended trains, especially given the enormous increase in the use of rail to transport oil.
The Canadian Railway Association estimates that the amount of oil shipped by rail through Canada has grown 28,000 per cent since 2009. Some 140,000 carloads of crude are expected to be shipped in Canada this year, compared to just 500 in 2009.
NDP energy critic Peter Julian criticized the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper for what he described as abandoning railway inspections, saying the government has implemented as much as $3 million in cuts to railway safety and allowed the industry to police itself.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper would not discuss the issue of railway safety on Sunday, saying only that “it would be irresponsible to comment before we have the facts.”
Also on HuffPost