August 8, 2013 in Nation/World

Railway in crash files for bankruptcy

David Sharp Associated Press

PORTLAND, Maine – A rail company whose runaway oil train caused a fire and explosion that killed 47 people in a small town in Canada filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. and Canada on Wednesday, and an attorney said he expects company executives to explore putting it up for sale within weeks.

In its filings, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway Ltd. and its Canadian counterpart, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Canada Co., cited debts to more than 200 creditors following the disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Attorney Peter Flowers, who represents 30 of the victims’ families, accused company Chairman Ed Burkhardt of trying to use the legal system to shield his companies from legal responsibility.

Burkhardt said previously that a company bankruptcy filing was likely following rail service disruptions because its rail line remains closed in Lac-Megantic. The Hermon, Maine-based company, which continues to operate, faces lawsuits and enormous cleanup costs following the July 6 disaster.

The parked train, with 72 tankers full of crude oil, was unattended when it began rolling toward town, eventually derailing downtown. Several tankers exploded, destroying 40 buildings in the lakeside town. The company blamed the train’s operator for failing to set enough hand brakes.

The Canadian government, which already has announced $60 million to help in the recovery, insisted it’ll be seeking damages from the rail company.

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