MM&A Railway applies for bankruptcy

After the tragedy a few weeks ago at Lac Megantic so many things have come out that are just wrong, and there are a few that aren’t even being talked about. Here a brief list of my musings about this tragedy:

  • Why is no one talking about the fact that there are railway procedures that allow a running train to be left unoccupied? Forget about how many brakes were applied, why is that ever allowed?
  • After the worst tragedy in his company’s history, why did it take MM&A Chairman Edward Burkhardt four days to visit the site? When asked, his response was that he was more effective managing the crisis from his company’s headquarters in suburban Chicago. Is he really that out to lunch?
  • Burkhardt, pulling his best impression of BP’s Tony Heyward, shifted the blame to every party but his own company. The train was tampered with, the engineer lied, the firefighters started the fire. The list goes on.
  • Let’s acknowledge the strength of the residents of the town for their perseverance.
  • MM&A now has to file for bankruptcy because it can’t cover the costs of the cleanup, estimated at more than $200 million. Wouldn’t they have insurance for this kind of thing? They do run a railroad after-all. Oh right, they do have insurance, $25 million worth. Does that seem sufficient for a company carrying dangerous goods across the continent?

If any of you remember the listeriosis crisis that Michael McCain and Maple Leaf Foods went through a few years, you may remember this quote from Mr. McCain, “Going through the crisis, there are two advisers I’ve paid no attention to. The first are the lawyers, and the second are the accountants. It’s not about money or legal liability-this is about our being accountable for providing consumers with safe food.”

Sounds like a good lesson for Mr Burkhardt.