Edict of Nantes

Maybe not merely a tragic accident.  There’s always the possibility of sabotage.

Bear in mind that early reports of any exceptional incident are always filled with low-quality information and/or outright disinformation.  Statements from a guy seeking to minimize the inevitable (massive) tort liability have a certain inherent bias, but …

How did this happen?Joseph R. McGonigle [vice-president of marketing for The Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway] asked. “There are many fail-safe modes.  How this happened is just beyond us.”
Security mechanisms [were] in place to prevent anyone from tampering with the [equipment], and the proper checks were done by the conductor before he left the train. No one except him or another employee of the company should have been able to set it in motion.  The locomotive portion of the 73-car train actually detached half a mile outside of Lac Mégantic, but the cars carrying the oil kept on rolling. “It travelled under its own inertia to the center of town.”

Lac_Mega-ntic

Lunghu’s topographical maps of northwest Maine/southeast Quebec are packed away somewhere, but he’s gonna venture a guess that’s it’s downhill all the way from Nantes to Coburn Gore.  That would transform this particular runaway train into a gravity-feed low-tech weapons systems targeted at a spectacularly remote US border outpost.  Sure hope the weekend shifts at CISC and NSA are already sifting through several weeks of celltower metadata to identify persons of interest.

 

Errata & Addenda (update)

  • A superficial review of available cartographic products reveals that 1] the MM&A rail line doesn’t run southward through Coburn Gore but rather east toward Jackman, ME; and 2] the terrain slopes slightly upward halfway from Lac Mégantic to the Canada/US border.  So, to make it to the next station, you’d definitely need the little engine that could.
  • In addition to the understandable media focus on human-interest dimensions of this catastrophe, it’s also gratifying to observe the all-too-predictable ‘spin’ campaign being rolled out by oil industry proponents of the Keystone pipeline and similar projects (safer than rail transport, etc.).  A conspiracy theorist might actually begin to wonder …  ‘what if?’

 

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