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La longue nuit de Mégantic

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Michel Huneault
La longue nuit de Mégantic

CONTACT Gallery
January 29 – March 13, 2015
Opening Reception Thursday January 29, 6 – 9pm, remarks at 7pm

The CONTACT Gallery is pleased to present La longue nuit de Mégantic, an exhibition by Montreal-based photographer Michel Huneault.

La longue nuit de Mégantic is the culmination of the documentary photographer’s year-long project visiting Lac-Mégantic after Canada’s deadliest train disaster in almost 150 years. In the middle of the night on July 6, 2013 a train filled with crude oil derailed in the small Quebec town creating an explosion that destroyed much of the downtown area, instantly killing 47 people.

The disaster has since been in the forefront of current national debates regarding energy transportation, safety and the environment.  However, Huneault’s interest in this story is human and intimate, with a focus on the community and the aftershock. His experience in international development and academic research on disaster and trauma, both personal and collective, has given him an insightful perspective.

The series of large-format and small photographs, predominantly of the town’s landscape, brings to mind the viewpoint of a wanderer, or stunned observer. Upon Huneault’s arrival within hours of the explosion, and subsequent visits throughout the seasons, he was able to capture an eerie calm that seemed to resonate across the community. Often at night he would return to the same streets, houses or sites, retracing the geography of the scarred place, sometimes encountering locals on a similar journey. As a result, the images convey the passing of time and evoke the emotions of loss, absence and searching, as they evolve over one symbolic year.

An accompanying single-channel video piece consists of a series of portraits and short audio interviews with community members who experienced loss and trauma.  Their stories offer an intimate glimpse into their process of mourning, the need for answers and justice, and the desire to find reconciliation.

Helen Vassilakos | Goldhawk.com

Helen Vassilakos | Goldhawk.com.

Listen to SRC Podcast with Dale Goldhawk

Helen Vassilakos Goldhawk_com

Watch This Video

Video Rail concerns for Junction residents Toronto Star

GO train riders: Do you know what’s riding next to you?

Link to story: Toronto Star Friday September 26, 2014 Jessica McDiarmid

The transport by rail of dangerous goods is a concern not only for those living near rail lines, but also for those who commute alongside rail lines.

Many of these dangerous goods are part of the economic reality we live in, and while reducing our carbon footprint is a noble goal, it is not one likely to be achieved quickly.

So what can we do to protect our families and communities?

The first step is gathering knowledge.  There is a lot of information on this topic, and while it can be challenging to sift through, knowing that the aim is to prevent another Lac-Mégantic is a huge motivator.  Follow Safe Rail Communities on FB for current events on this matter.

Step two is to raise awareness.  Share what you learn with your family, friends, and neighbours.  Connect with your MP, and ask them for information and support.  The oversight of railway regulations is a federal matter.

Step three is to take action.  Use every possible avenue to make this an issue for the federal government.   Draft a petition on this matter, and collect 25 signatures with addresses and postal codes.  Ask your MP to submit it to the House of Commons.  The Minister of Transport must officially respond.  Seek out other groups like Safe Rail Communities, and unite to form a larger voice.

SRC is asking for more transparency and safeguards with respect to the transport by rail of dangerous goods, most especially Bakken crude, which is still a largely unpredictable entity.  Despite recent changes to railway safety, the Minister of Transport has refused to allow any Transport officials to attend community meetings since the last one on April 24th in the riding of York-South Weston.  None attended our community meeting on September 4th despite multiple invitations from our MP, Peggy Nash (NDP).  SRC also sent an official invitation to the Minister herself, but received no response.

With this summer’s passing of Bill C31 Budget Implementation Act, Canadians were again delivered a suspect omnibus bill.  This one included the repeal of sections of the both the Railway Safety Act and the Transportation of Dangerous Goods Act, 1992.  These sections relate specifically to opportunities for Canadians and other interested groups to review and comment on a proposed regulation at the last stages of the regulation process, before it is enacted and published in Part II of the Canada Gazette.  SRC wrote to the Senate Committee on National Finance before its review of the bill.  While we received an official response, the bill still passed.

SRC is committed to our goal, and we will continue to seek out ways to hold our government accountable for the risk these oil tanks present to rail communities across the country.  Please connect with us.

Community Meeting on Rail Safety

As we approach the July 6th anniversary of the tragedy of Lac-Megantic, Safe Rail Communities continues to work on organizing a community meeting to raise awareness about the transport by rail of crude oil and other hazardous materials.  So far, invitations extended to CP Rail and Transport Canada have received negative replies.  Last week, SRC personally invited Minister Lisa Raitt in a letter submitted with an invitation from our MP, Peggy Nash, but we have received no reply.  However, Peggy is determined to help us make this meeting happen.  Her team has connections to other rail safety experts who can help inform us and our neighbours in the riding of Parkdale – High Park.

SRC has decided to invite the Transportation Safety Board to share information with us at this meeting, though they likely will not attend without participation from Transport Canada.  However, communicating with the TSB is one way to raise awareness on this issue from a local perspective.  We also wanted to respond to the TSB on the matter of their assessment of Transport Canada’s recent promises to improve rail safety.  SRC supports TSB’s three recommendations of January 23, 2014.  We do not want another tragedy.

 

Lac-Megantic Memorial

 

Motions on Rail Safety:

There have been three Member Motions on rail safety adopted by Toronto City Councillors since the disaster in Lac-Megantic on July 6, 2013:

MM37.56 Improving Community Safety in Toronto with regards to Dangerous Railway Cargo (Fragedakis, adopted 16July2013)
MM50.39 Safety Concerns regarding the Transportation of Hazardous Materials on CP Rail Line in Toronto (Palacio, adopted 1Apr2014)
MM50.7 Protecting our Neighbourhoods: Safety, Accountability and Transparency on Toronto’s Rail Lines (Matlow, adopted 1Apr2014)
The motion by Councillor Mary Fragedakis (Ward 29, Toronto-Danforth) included a direction to the City Manager and Director, Office of Emergency Management, and all other relevant staff to review railway safety in Toronto. The purpose of this review is to determine whether there is anything the City can do to improve public safety with regards to the transport by rail of hazardous materials through Toronto.

A report on this motion is expected to be released on May 20th in advance of its appearance on the agenda of the May 27th meeting of the Executive Committee.
You can Submit a Comment or Request to Speak on any matter being considered by a committee of Council. On this matter, all Comments can be directed to:

Secretariat Contact Kelly McCarthy
10th floor, West Tower, City Hall
100 Queen Street West
Toronto, ON M5H 2N2
email: exc@toronto.ca
phone: 416-392-4666
fax: 416-392-1879

Safe Rail Communities will be looking out for this report. Join us in submitting a Comment, and let our City Councillors know how important this issue is to us.

Find Out More

Videos

Boom video
Video Rail concerns for Junction residents Toronto Star

Podcasts

 Helen Vassilakos Goldhawk_com

In the News

Toronto and Mississauga mayors want dangerous goods off their cities’ rail lines Toronto Star
 Risk assessments on dangerous goods travelling by rail won’t be released Toronto Star
Tories Make Big Cuts To Transport Safety While Touting Safety
Rail carriers keep emergency response plans secret from residents Toronto StarBattle Over Rail Secrecy Intensifies 
Shipping Dangerous Goods: Toronto Mulls Together Rules for Development Along Rail Corridor
Dot -111 Detecting Disaster Spotters Guide 
Toxic Chemicals Crude Oil Radioactive Material Ride the Rails Through Toronto
CN Leakage in US 
TSB Investigation on Lac-Mégantic Disaster
Accidents Surge as Oil Industry Takes the Train
Minister Raitt responds to Transportation Safety Board recommendations following Lac-Mégantic 
Spike in Crude Oil Trains Rumbling Through Heart of Toronto Raises Concerns 
National Energy board to Rule Today on Endbridge’s Line 9 Reversal 
CP Rail Trains Carrying Crude Oil Through Toronto Spark fears 
New Federal Rail Safety Proposal to Tighten Scrutiny of Crude Shipments 
City of Toronto Emergency Plan 
Lac-Mégantic crude oil as explosive as gas, testing reveals
Lac-Mégantic train crash a wake-up call for U.S. rail safety 
Stop Line 9 
Is Bakkan Oil Safe Enough for GTA? 
Oil by rail: If we want better rules, we need better data 
Federal government quietly adopts new rail-safety rules 
Canadian and U.S. safety watchdogs warn of oil-by-rail’s risks in push for tighter rules 
Training for disaster around midtown Toronto rail lines 

 

Who Are We?

Safe Rail Communities (SRC) is a community-based initiative, started in March 2014 by neighbours in Toronto’s West end.

Responding to the alarming increase in DOT-111 rail tanks carrying crude oil and other hazardous materials on the Canadian Pacific rail line that runs through mid-town Toronto, SCR advocates for greater transparency and safeguards with respect to the transportation of crude oil and other hazardous materials along rail lines throughout Canada.

SRC is committed to raising awareness at local, provincial, and national levels. SRC seeks to unite rail communities across Canada around this pressing issue.

Currently, SRC is actively pursuing the attention of all levels of government. SRC is calling for more openness and discussion between government, railway companies, and communities around the transportation of crude oil and other hazardous materials along rail lines throughout Canada.

Why be concerned?

  • The number of DOT-111 rail cars carrying crude oil and other hazardous materials in Canada has increased from 500 in 2009 to an estimated 140,000 in 2014. [1] .
  • The DOT-111 cars used to transport these hazardous materials have a 20-year history of susceptibility to product release in an accident. [2] .
  • The crude oil being transported from the new oil fields in Bakken, North Dakota has been shown to be as volatile as gasoline. [3] .
  • Recent rail accidents show that when a large number of tanks carrying flammables are involved in an accident, there is significant risk for loss of life, and damage to the community and environment. [4] .
  • While CP and CN rail must share information with municipalities about what hazardous materials are being transported and how much, this information is not being shared with residents. [5]

 

Refrences: [1] Railway Association of Canada [2] Transportation Safety Board of Canada [3] Transportation Safety Board of Canada [4] Transportation Safety Board of Canada [5] Transport Canada