previously reported, the Quebec government last month issued an
omnibus cleanup order respecting the Lac-Mégantic
disaster, including orders of questionable validity against
shareholders of parties which may bear primary responsibility.
Folliwng the bankruptcy filing of the railroad operator, the
Quebec government yesterday announced that it was expanding the scope
of its cleanup order. In addition to naming an affiliate
of the owner of the spilled petroleum, the amended order names the Canadian Pacific
Railway as a party responsible for the cleanup.
The order states that the CPR was the party primarily contracted
to transport the spilled oil from North Dakota to New Brunswick,
had arranged transportation on the railroad on whose line the
spill took place, and was therefore in custody and control of
the oil at the time of the derailment.
The CPR immediately stated that it was not legally
responsible and would appeal the order.
Section 114.1 of the Environmental Quality Act provides the
Environment Minister authority to make cleanup orders as
114.1. Where he considers that there is urgency, the
Minister may order any person or municipality being the owner of
certain contaminants or having had the custody or control thereof,
to collect or to remove any contaminant dumped, emitted, issued or
discharged into the water or onto the soil, accidentally or
contrary to the provisions of this Act or the regulations of the
Government, and to take the measures required to clean the water
and the soil so that these contaminants cease to be spread or to
propagate in the environment.
The relationship between the CPR and the railway on which the
derailment took place will be key to any determination of
liability, but as with the naming of shareholders and affiliates,
it is difficult to see how the CPR was in custody or control of the
oil at the time of the derailment.
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