State Provides Coordinated Efforts in Response to Lac-Mégantic, Quebec train derailment
July 8, 2013
News from: MEMA and the Maine Departments of Environmental Protection and Transportation
The Maine Emergency Management Agency announced today that Maine firefighters who responded to the Lac-Mégantic, Quebec train derailment and fire have returned to their stations, and at this time, Quebec officials are not requesting further response resources from Maine.
MEMA Director Rob McAleer has been in contact with his counterpart in Quebec since the first reports of the accident, and has kept Governor Paul R. LePage advised of the situation.
“I have conveyed Governor LePage’s commitment to help in any way we can, should the need arise,” McAleer said. “Officials in Quebec have told us that at this time they have the resources they need going forward with the response.”
“People have asked me today if Maine would be prepared for an accident like this,” McAleer said. “My answer is that it would be among the worst things we have faced, but first responders all over the state would be ready to respond, and would have the right training and equipment to do so.”
McAleer said that 19 hazardous materials teams around the state train all year long for any contingency they might face. Specific training is also regularly offered for response to tank truck rollovers, and periodically for train derailments.
Other state agencies including the Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) are closely monitoring the derailment and fires to assess potential impacts to Maine. The International Emergency Management Assistance Compact (IEMAC) allows Maine to share resources with eastern Canadian provinces in the event of an emergency.
In an effort to safeguard Maine’s air quality, DEP has been monitoring the ambient air quality daily. There have been no changes to Maine’s air quality forecast over the weekend. DEP forecasters will continue to closely watch for any changes. The oil spill in the Chaudière River, which flows north approximately 115 miles to the St. Lawrence River, has not affected Maine waters.
“DEP has 25 responders who are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year to quickly and safely respond to the over 3,000 annual hazardous spills in Maine,” said DEP Commissioner Patricia Aho. “In the fall of 2012, DEP established a workgroup of responders including rail representatives to actively engage in the preparation of train derailments. DEP is creating a series of maps with strategies and plans in place that will assist in the event of an actual spill.”
The Maine Department of Transportation officials have met with Governor Paul R. LePage to review safety protocols. MaineDOT works with federal officials to strategically monitor, inspect and assess track conditions to determine whether a railroad is complying with federal safety standards. While the Federal Rail Administration handles all track inspections, certified State inspectors, provide assistance, as well.
“We obviously are in close contact with the FRA to determine that safety standards are met as we continue to monitor the situation,” said MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt.