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Canada stern on train regulations

July 9, 2013 at 7:41 AM

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec, July 9 (UPI) -- While investigations are ongoing, any party found to have violated Canadian transport laws during a train derailment will face swift justice, a minister said.

A train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, near the Maine border. At least five people died and dozens of others were reported missing following the Saturday accident.

Canadian Transportation Minister Denis Lebel said enforcement mechanisms for the rail industry are tighter than ever in the government of Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

"If anyone is found to have contravened any federal transportation regulations, we will take immediate steps to enforce those regulations," he said from the scene Monday.

Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway blamed the air brakes on the locomotive holding the freight for the accident. MMA said provincial and federal regulators were leading the investigation into the accident.

"We do not yet know the cause of this tragic derailment," Lebel said.

Gains in oil production in North America have resulted in more deliveries by rail because of existing pipeline regulations. Lebel said train accidents have decreased substantially in the last few years.

The Quebec government said oil contamination from the accident was "less than we feared."

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