07/15/2015 09:41 EDT | Updated 07/15/2015 09:59 EDT

Railway Threatens To Sue Academic Who Inspected Lac-Megantic Tracks


The railway that operates the track running through Lac-Megantic has threatened to sue a university lecturer who inspected the tracks and said they continue to be dangerous.

Central Maine and Quebec Railway (CMQ) “has not authorized any third-party to inspect any portion of its railway. Walking near or around railway property is not only illegal, it is extremely dangerous,” the company said in a statement issued Tuesday.

Jacques Vandersleyen, a business management lecturer at the University of Quebec in Rimouski and former employee of National Belgium Railway, was brought in by residents to inspect the tracks two years after a derailed oil train crashed into Lac-Megantic’s downtown core and exploded, killing 47 people.

Vandersleyen told Montreal’s La Presse that it is “inconceivable” that trains continue to run on the tracks.

The potential for danger is there,” he said. “There is no oil flowing there for now, but propane, yes. Imagine a train full of propane ... Imagine what it will look like the day it jumps the tracks.”

Vandersleyen reportedly communicated his concerns to Lac-Megantic’s mayor.

CMQ is the new railroad company born out of the ashes of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic (MMA), which went bankrupt in 2013 following the Lac-Megantic explosion.

According to CBC, the railway is considering legal action against Vendersleyen, who it says isn’t an expert.

"We had train crews working in that very area yesterday; a live, active main track. That raises questions about the actual concern for safety and competence of the so-called rail 'expert' involved in this trespassing incident," chief operating officer Ryan Ratledge said.

The company says it has invested $20 million in track safety and other infrastructure improvements since it started operations in 2014. It told CBC it carries out inspections twice a week.

Vandersleyen said he is not concerned about a lawsuit, and thinks the railroad should be spending its money on safety measures instead.

In a report issued last year, Transport Canada blamed the Lac-Megantic explosion on a lack of government oversight and a penny-pinching railroad company.

Three employees of MMA were charged last year with negligence over the explosion. The federal government charged six more individuals linked to the railroad, including a former president, last month.

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