QUEBEC CITY — Quebec wants the federal government to split the multimillion-dollar cleanup bill in Lac-Megantic, Que., site of Canada's deadliest railway explosion.
Six million litres of crude oil spilled when a runaway crude-carrying train derailed and exploded in the lakeside town near the border with Maine. The disaster killed 47 people and incinerated a large chunk of the town's core.
Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Alexandre Cloutier sent a letter to federal Infrastructure Minister Denis Lebel on Sept. 5.
In it, Cloutier requests "the federal government quickly confirm that it will remain a partner that Quebec can count on regarding the sharing of the entire financial burden."
"What we want is a written, formal commitment indicating that you...will help us pay the bill," he wrote.
Lebel hadn't sent a response as of Tuesday.
But in an e-mail to QMI Agency he said the federal government hasn't forgotten the grieving town 250 km east of Montreal.
"We will respect the province's jurisdiction," Lebel said. "However, we have regular discussions with Quebec. It is clear that the federal government is ready to help the people of Lac-Megantic."
The 72-car Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MMA) crude-oil train barrelled into the centre of town and derailed, inundating the sewer system, basements and local waterways with crude oil.
The feds and Quebec have already committed $120 million for emergency measures, assistance to businesses and citizen relocation.
The next step is to decontaminate the town and rebuild a 1.5-sq.-km area downtown that was demolished in the explosion.
Then there's also the matter of MMA's rail line through town.
Local officials want it rebuilt despite heightened concerns about rail safety.