Rail safety rules debated in Canada

July 22, 2013 at 7:45 AM

OTTAWA, July 22 (UPI) -- Safety regulations for the rail industry make sense only if they're followed, the chairman of the company tied to the July oil cargo disaster in Quebec said.

More than 45 people are confirmed dead as a result of a July 6 derailment of a train carrying crude oil through Lac-Megantic, a small town in Quebec near the Canadian border with Maine.

The Canadian Transportation Safety Board said rules should be in place to ensure trains are properly secured when parked on rails. Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, the U.S.-based rail operator responsible for the incident, said the hand brakes on the locomotive were misapplied, leading to the disaster.

MM&A Chairman Edward Burkhardt told The Globe and Mail newspaper in Canada new rules make sense but only if they're followed.

"You can have more and more safety rules, and all of that, but if the compliance doesn't improve, then it's not going to make any difference," he said in an interview published Sunday.

Quebec responders said they're concerned about water quality after some of the oil from the train seeped into the city's sewer system. Residents may return to their homes later this week to survey their belongings.

MM&A is operating only limited routes through Quebec as its main line through Lac-Megantic remains closed.

Canadian Pacific Rail enacted policies on idled trains before the safety board's recommendations.

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