Dispute in clean-up of Lac-Megantic oil spill to be dealt with in court

by gregpdesrosiers on March 24, 2014 - 9:23am

In the article "Someone has to pay to clean this up; Dispute over disaster heads into court next week with six companies contesting legal order," by Monique Beaudin of The Montreal Gazette, and published on January 18, 2014, a dispute is set to be brought into court for next week. It dealt with who was going to clean up the oil spill as a result of last July's Lac-Megantic disaster that killed 47 people.

The disaster has left almost six million litres of oil either spilled or burned, and has contaminated Lac-Megantic, its nearby lake, and the Chaudiere River.

The large disaster has left six companies some major concerns on who will pay the estimated $200 million to decontaminate the areas the crude oil spilled at the time of the disaster. Lac-Megantic had to pay the emergency workers $8 million after a payment shortage on July 17 since the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic company weren't paying for them from an insurance dispute. In addition, Quebec's taxpayers would not pay the decontamination price, according to politician Yves-François Blanchet.

Canadian Pacific and three oil-service companies have been disputing from one another about who owned the oil on the train that derailed. The three companies wanted to be removed from environmental orders since they are companies from the United States and have no operations in Quebec.

They said that World Fuel Services Inc. owned the oil, but sold it to Irving Oil for it to be delivered to Saint John, New Brunswick. If the three companies are considered to be the owners of the oil, they say that CP and MMA should be held responsible for part of, if not all, of the decontamination costs since "CP had custody of the oil and MMA was responsible for the oil spilling."

CP, on the other hand, said MMA owned the oil; they took charge of the oil when it arrived at Cote-St-Luc from North Dakota. They asked Tribunal administrative du Quebec to declare their order null and void.

All companies stated that the way on how Quebec issued the orders was faulty because of misunderstanding its environmental quality law. Quebec orders say that the three American companies owned the oil in the derailment. Irving Oil was not named in the environmental orders because the oil that was given possession never completed its delivery to Saint John.

TAQ had its three-judge panel with the parties on January 23, 2014.

Of course this is outdated so my opinion to improve isn't effective, but what should count as an improvement is that the tribunal judges, who will come across the six different companies chosen for one to pay the cleanup expenses, should apply their philosophy universally to all of them. Of course they have to follow Quebec's justice system procedures, but the judges must treat each party carefully in order to create the best decision possible to who will pay the cost to clean up the Lac-Megantic oil spill. Even then, it's an extremely delicate procedure because as soon as one decision is made, there's no way to turn back, and the overall reactions and treatments could become worse.

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English college student in Computer Science and Mathematics.