In this July 6, 2013 file photo, smoke rises from railway cars from now-defunct Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railways company that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec. Forty-seven people were killed.
How did this happen? The brakes weren't properly set, and the train rolled downhill without anyone onboard, 1am, 72 tank cars long carry 18.5 million gallons of oil
The derailment and explosions destroyed about 30 buildings, including a crowded bar, and forced about a third of the town's 6,000 residents from their homes.
Two days before the crash in Lac-Mégantic, an engineer reported trouble with the locomotive's engine on a separate trip. Despite that concern, the locomotive was put at the head of the train bound for Nantes on July 5, 2013. Engineer Tom Harding noticed that the engine was surging, making it difficult to keep up a consistent pace.
A fire broke out on the lead locomotive about an hour after the engineer left. When firefighters extinguished the fire and shut down the locomotive, no other locomotive was started – leaving the air compressor off and the air brakes slowly leaking.
The "reset safety control" system was not wired to set the entire train's brakes in the event of an engine failure, the TSB found. The pressure in the air brake pipes was roughly 95 psi at midnight that evening. About an hour after the train was shut down, it had dropped to 27 psi. The train started rolling, derailing 17 minutes later 11.6 kilometres away.
Mr. Harding set just seven hand brakes – far fewer than the number that would have been required to keep the 1.4-kilometre train in place on the hill where it was parked if the main air brakes failed. TSB testing found that the minimum number of hand brakes set out by a company chart – nine – wouldn't have been enough on their own either. Instead, investigators say between 18 and 26 hand brakes on cars and locomotives would have been needed to hold the train if the air brakes failed.
By the time the train reached a curve in the track in Lac-Mégantic, it was travelling at 105 km/h, more than triple the typical speed at the location, the tank cars derailed due to their high center of gravity
This disaster was used as scenery in the recent Netflix smash hit "Birdbox" and there was a lot of protesting from Canada to Netflix about using their deadly catastrophe in the movie