07/13/2013 10:15 EDT | Updated 09/12/2013 05:12 EDT

Focus Shifts To Accountability In Lac-Mégantic Disaster

The Transportation Safety Board is promising the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway company (MMA) will be thoroughly investigated after the Lac-Mégantic train disaster.

TSB chair Wendy Tadros visited the derailment site in the Eastern Townships on Friday. She said the investigation will include looking into every aspect of the MMA’s rail operations.

“This will be an incredibly complex investigation,” she said. “It will be intensive. And I want to be clear: it will take months or more.”

She said the TSB would take an in-depth look into the railway company’s safety management system and the organizational factors that contributed to the accident that decimated part of a small Quebec town.

Earlier in the week, MMA chairman Ed Burkhardt suggested the bulk of the blame for the accident lay on the shoulders of the train’s engineer.

“It seems that adequate hand brakes were not set on this train, and it was the engineer’s responsibility to set them.”

Tadros of the TSB said it’s likely much more complicated than that.

"At the TSB we hold by the theory that no accident is ever caused by one thing and it's always a series of things," she said. "And it always involves the organization. It never comes down to one individual."

She added that the mandate of the TSB is not to assess blame, but to improve rail safety. She said there will definitely be lessons learned from what she called the most devastating rail accident in Canadian history.

For its part, the Quebec government hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry into the derailment and explosion in Lac-Mégantic.

Quebec Transport and Municipal Affairs Minister Sylvain Gaudreault said the priority is to make sure people have basic necessities like food and shelter, as well as psychological support.

Another of the government’s priorities is getting the railway up and running again in Lac-Mégantic.

“The railroad for a town like Lac-Mégantic is important because it’s also economic development,” Gaudreault said.

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