Ed Burkhardt, CEO of MMA Rail, the company who ran the train involved in the deadly explosion and accident in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec tried to defend his company's safety record and calm growing anger over the accident at a Wednesday afternoon press conference in the disaster-stricken town.
"We've had quite a reasonable safety record up until Saturday and then we blew it all," Burkhardt said at a press conference that at times got heated.
According to analysts MMA has an accident rate 10 times the U.S. average.
"Last year, the MMA had on average 34.7 accidents per million miles travelled; the national average is 2.3 accident per million miles," CTV reported.
"I’m devastated by what occurred in this community," he said to the dozens of reporters gathered at the press conference.
Burkhardt also hinted that the train engineer, who has since been suspended by the company, may not have applied enough hand brakes. Earlier in the week, Burkhardt blamed firefighters in nearby Nantes for somehow being involved in causing the explosion.
"I think the fire department played a role in this. That's incontrovertible," CNN reported.
He softened that statement slightly on Wednesday, saying that he did not blame the firefighters for the disaster.
Earlier in the day, Burkhardt had been heckled by angry residents and escorted by police as he walked around Lac-Mégantic. As of Wednesday, some 60 people are still missing and 15 people have been killed in the massive explosion and fire.
"I hope I'm not going to get shot," Burkhardt reportedly quipped before he visited the town. The CEO had also reportedly been getting hate mail.
Burkhardt, according to the corporate page of the MMA Railway, has more than 20 years of experience as a senior executive with railroad companies.
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