Lac-Mégantic Rail Disaster: Edward Burkhardt is a bit of a Jerk


Jonathan McLeod

Jonathan McLeod is a writer living in Ottawa, Ontario. (That means Canada.) He spends too much time following local politics and writing about zoning issues. Follow him on Twitter.

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16 Responses

  1. Avatar Glyph says:

    That photo…Jesus. I just keep scrolling back up to it.

    Holy shit.

    Sorry I don’t have anything better to say. My condolences to the families of the dead, injured and missing, and people who may have lost their homes, businesses or livelihoods.Report

  2. Avatar greginak says:

    The two MMA execs seems to fighting to make the most passive voice statement. Crimany. That is a scary picture. RIP.Report

  3. Avatar Patrick says:

    I would suggest that he reconsider wearing that vest.

    Also, I would suggest that the Board oust the guy tomorrow. But hey, that’s just me.Report

  4. Avatar George Turner says:

    A) He’s just playing the role of the railroad executive in Unstoppable, and he’ll get replaced by Rosario Dawson in a week or two. I can’t believe you don’t know acting when you see it.

    B) The railroads automated John Henry out of a job over a century ago, but why automate Casey Jones?Report

  5. Avatar Just Me says:

    From what I have seen it is still a possibility that the firefighters did shut down the engine that maintained the emergency breaks during the fire. I am surprised that they left the scene before having a representative of the company that runs the train or from the rail yard on site to ensure the safety of a train carrying oil that was previously on fire, especially if they did do anything to the train itself during the fighting of that fire.Report

    • You’re right, Just Me. It’s too soon to make any definitive statements. There’s a lot of misinformation and misunderstandings floating around. The firefighters and the company have differing stories, but I could easily see how there stories match up, if you account for some miscommunication.

      Whether there was a rep of the company at the scene is still under debate… as is the definition of a representative (there were reports of someone there, but it wasn’t a company official or the engineer). There’s also a question as to what the company’s procedures are on this, and what they told the firefighters over the phone.

      But without more information, the company (especially with such a poor safety record) is being a bit of a d*ck to automatically blame the firefighters who put out the fire on their unwatched, unguarded, unlocked train.

      Even as Burkhardt arrived in Montreal, in the same breath he blamed a firefighter and then said that the company certainly isn’t blaming the firefighters. He’s a piece of work.Report

  6. Avatar zic says:

    Jonathan, thank you for writing this.

    I’ve been unable to find much news about events here (at least in English).

    I think that’s the same rail line runs through my town; about 1/4 mile from my house, a line which goes from Portland, ME to Montreal. We had hopes of seeing it carry passenger trains, too. If it is the same line, it not only carries oil; a nearby town here was evacuated some years ago (about 16?) because of a derailment and dangerous chemical spill.

    I am stunned to learn they park the train and leave the diesel engine running, with no person on the train.

    My heart goes out to the people of Lac Megantic. It is so easy to take these rail lines for granted, to not think about the dangerous cargos they carry; cargos that we also don’t want on our roads.Report

    • Avatar Jonathan McLeod in reply to zic says:

      That might be the very same line, zic. MMA did have a serious chemical spill a few years back that caused the evacuation of a town. So it matches up.

      If you’re watching CNN, be quite careful. From the moment the company made the initial press release blaming the firefighters for “tampering” with the locomotive, CNN presented it as fact, while investigators were still trying to figure out what the hell the company was talking about. Further, CNN had another story recently with a headline stating that it was determined that the train had been sabotaged. The story had no supporting facts (it didn’t even talk about a possible sabotage), and the police are only looking into that possibility (in the end, it may be true, but no one can make such declarations right now with any degree of certainty).

      If you’re looking for info, is a pretty good source. You might also want to check out the website for the Montreal Gazette, since they’re close to Lac-Megantic. I think the Gazette has a pretty good reputation.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Jonathan McLeod says:

        Can’t watch CNN, no cable TV, so it’s what I gather on the internet.

        Typically, a train goes through at 11:30 each night. There have been none until Monday night, and it was only an engine, not the long trail of cars that takes 10 to 15 min. to pass through.

        I’ll check the Gazette. But what I’d really like is a rail map; they’re not so easy to find on line.Report

    • Avatar zic in reply to zic says:

      I did find a map, and it is not the rail line through my community; it goes east to Bangor, Maine.

      The lines cross in Lac Megantic, which explains why there have been no trains through here since the accident.

      Here’s the map (pdf):

    • Avatar Lyle in reply to zic says:

      This line was originally a Canadian Pacific line, that was built to provide easier access to the Maritimes, than going around. It crosses Maine, and enters New Brunswick at McAdam. The line ends in Saint John. (Which is confirmed by the report that the oil was headed to a refinery there) Here is a link to a wikipedia article on the line:

      • Avatar Lyle in reply to Lyle says:

        To add a bit way back when the CPR ended at Montreal, whose port is closed in the winter due to ICE. In order to compete with American Railroads (and other Canadian Railroads who had lines to the Maritimes) who had access to ice free ports, they built this line to St. John NB.Report