Tags: quebec | train | wreck | cleanup

Cleanup Workers at Fatal Quebec Train-Wreck Site Battle Elements, Fatigue

By    |   Thursday, 18 Jul 2013 06:43 AM

Disaster workers battling heat, fatigue, and potential contamination from toxic materials have been limited to 15-minute shifts cleaning up the site of the recent Lac-Megantic train explosion, according to town fire chief Denis Lauzon.
 
A hazardous-materials unit was inspecting the cleanup site for traces of chemicals like benzene, a toxic component of crude oil. Authorities said the HAZMAT team was prepared to withdraw disaster workers from the cleanup if high levels were found.

Lauzon said cleanup workers found themselves in a “no-man’s land,” uncertain which of the wrecked rail cars were contaminated and which were stable enough to move, CBC News reported Wednesday.

Thirty-eight bodies have been recovered from the site, where part of the 72-car train carrying crude oil derailed and blew up on July 6. Twelve people remain unaccounted for and are presumed dead.

Recovery efforts in Lac-Megantic have been slowed by the sweltering heat that descended on eastern Canada this week, with high temperatures in the upper 80s and 90s and high humidity. The heat and humidity are expected ease beginning Thursday, with highs in the low 70s by Sunday.  

More than 60 firefighter and law-enforcement agencies across Canada and the United States have been working in Lac-Megantic’s “Red Zone,” which had been a thriving block of shops and restaurants prior to the train accident.

Search and recovery efforts have been hindered by the fact that police have been unable to search 10 to 15 area buildings which have six feet of water in the basement, the Daily Beast reported Tuesday.

Canada’s new transport minister Lisa Raitt visited the accident site Wednesday afternoon, where she promised that the federal government “will be here to help with reconstruction, in whatever way the province and the municipality wants us to be there.”

Speaking both in French and English, she told the local population that “the people of the country are with you.”

Thus far, however, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has promised to participate in Lac-Megantic’s reconstruction but has provided no firm details on the forthcoming financial help, the Toronto Globe and Mail reported.

Meanwhile, the company that owns the wrecked train, Montreal, Maine & Atlantic, confirmed Wednesday that it had to lay off an unspecified number of employees in Farnham, Quebec, due to the shutdown of its main line in Lac-Megantic.

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Disaster workers battling heat, fatigue, and potential contamination from toxic materials have been limited to 15-minute shifts cleaning up the site of the recent Lac-Megantic train explosion, according to town fire chief Denis Lauzon.
quebec,train,wreck,cleanup
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2013-43-18
Thursday, 18 Jul 2013 06:43 AM
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