OHS Canada Magazine

Lac-Mégantic update: On-site operations wrapping up, ongoing investigation remains a top priority

August 1, 2013

Health & Safety Transportation of Dangerous Goods (TDG) Workplace accident -- fatality Workplace accident -- injury

LAC-MÉGANTIC, QC (The Transportation Safety Board of Canada)

LAC-MÉGANTIC, QC (The Transportation Safety Board of Canada)

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) is wrapping up its on-site operations at Lac-Mégantic. The team of investigators has completed their examination and documentation of the wreckage scene and gathered the data they need from the accident site (red zone). Now that the field phase is winding down, the TSB is moving into the examination and analysis phase of this investigation. The investigation is on-going, and while there are no definitive findings to report at this time, there are some important next steps.

Next steps

The investigation team has identified a series of tests to be completed and a number of items to be examined at the TSB laboratory in Ottawa. In the coming months, the investigators and engineering experts will:

    --  Analyse metallurgical samples, damage records, and photographs        to determine the crashworthiness of the tank cars involved in        the derailment;    --  Review 3D imagesùscanned with the assistance of the U.S.        National Transportation Safety Boardùwhich have preserved        the exact state of a number of damaged tank cars and which will        help investigators understand tank car performance during the        accident in greater detail;    --  Examine selected wreckage in the laboratory and test selected        components (such as brakes, and wheel sets) to help        investigators better understand their accident performance;    --  Conduct theoretical analysis to determine the retarding forces        required to prevent the unintended movement of a train of this        size and weight from rolling down the 1.2% grade;    --  Create simulations and reconstruct events to learn more about        the accident sequence (i.e., validate data, test hypotheses,        and verify assumptions);    --  Process, analyse and compare numerous fluid samples in order to        verify the properties of the petroleum product in these tank        cars. This analysis is being carried out to help investigators        determine why the oil created such a fierce fire that night;    --  Review data from the locomotive event recorder and validate        information, such as speed and air brake reaction. An identical        set of locomotives was tested to simulate performance of the        locomotives in the occurrence. Event recorders from this        simulation will be compared against those from the train        involved in the accident;    --  Conduct brake tests on the locomotives from the accident and        arrange to conduct similar brake tests on the tank cars being        held at Nantes. This will help determine their condition, their        reaction, and their performance; and    --  Continue to collect information from both the railway and        Transport Canada. This information will be cross-referenced to        help investigators validate the data they have collected, and        get a clear picture of the way in which this railway was being        operated and overseen by the regulator.

Completing these tests, verifying the results and conducting thorough analyses will allow the TSB to piece together exactly what happened and why. “We need to be thorough and it will take months,” said Donald Ross, TSB’s Investigator-in-Charge. “This investigation remains a top priority for the TSB. As we leave the site, we wish to assure the citizens of Lac-Mégantic and all Canadians that the TSB’s key experts will continue to be dedicated to this important investigation,” he added.


If at any stage during the investigation the TSB identifies additional safety deficiencies, it will communicate directly with Transport Canada and the industry, and will inform the public. Visit the active investigation page for more information about this investigation.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates marine, pipeline, railway and aviation transportation occurrences. Its sole aim is the advancement of transportation safety. It is not the function of the Board to assign fault or determine civil or criminal liability.

News release via Canada NewsWire
For further information:      Transportation Safety Board of Canada Media Relations 819-994-8053   The TSB is online at www.tsb.gc.ca.


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