LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (Reuters) - Shipments of crude oil along the rail route disrupted by the Quebec train derailment could be out of service for “a while”, an official with Canada’s Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday.
Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway’s line that carries oil from Montreal through Maine destined for Irving Oil’s St. John, New Brunswick refinery has been shut since a crude train derailed in Lac-Megantic early Saturday.
About 50 people are either confirmed dead, or are still missing, likely turning the accident into North America’s worst rail disaster since 1989.
Transportation Safety Board lead investigator Don Ross said in a press conference the line would be out of service for “a while, until this gets cleared up.”
“Those services from Montreal through this area, Quebec, to the neighboring states is affected until we get it up and running,” he told reporters.
The MMA train had been carrying crude from North Dakota to the 300,000 barrel per day (bpd) Irving Oil refinery. Officials from Maine’s Department of Transportation said on Monday they had no plans to halt shipments of oil by rail through the state despite the Lac-Megantic disaster.
The MMA line carried more than 15,600 barrels per day (bpd) of crude through Maine in March, according to state data. A separate line owned by Pan Am Railways, took just over 12,400 bpd during that month.
Crude oil continues to flow through Maine to New Brunswick from points south along the railroad tracks owned by Pan Am Railways, which last year railed about 6,300 bpd of crude through the state.
Pan Am’s line enters southwestern Maine in Berwick then runs northeastward through Portland and Waterville to Mattawamkeag, where deliveries are handed off to Maine, Montreal and Atlantic’s line before crossing into New Brunswick, Canada.
“It’s a tragedy, and we’ve reached out to MMA and offered to do whatever we can to help them,” Pan Am vice president Cynthia Scarano told Reuters.
“But there’s been no interruption in our service,” she said.
Reporting by Richard Valdmanis, additional reporting by Dave Sherwood in Bowdoinham, Maine; Editing by Bernard Orr