Three employees of the railroad involved in last summer’s runaway oil train disaster that killed 47 people will appear in court Tuesday in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic to face criminal charges.

The Quebec provincial prosecutor’s office filed 47 counts of criminal negligence against engineer Thomas Harding of the now bankrupt  Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Ltd.

Manager of train operations Jean Demaitre and Richard Labrie, the railroad’s traffic controller, also face 47 charges, along with the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway Ltd.

The charges represent one count for each person killed and are the first criminal charges brought in the disaster, the Star Tribune said.

Criminal negligence that causes death can result in a jail sentence of up to life imprisonment in Canada, according to the report.

Rene Verret, a spokesman for the prosecutor, said the three railway employees were arrested late Monday afternoon.

In July last year, more than 60 tank cars carrying Bakken crude oil from North Dakota detached in the middle of the night, rolled downhill for about seven miles and derailed in Lac-Megantic.

Five tankers exploded, killing 47 and destroying at least 30 buildings, including a bar filled with patrons.

The sale of the bankrupt Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway for $15.85 million is slated to close Thursday in the U.S.

The purchase price will go to creditors.

Environmental clean up could cost between $200 million and $500 million based on estimates.

The railroad had only $25 million in insurance for wrongful death payouts, personal injury, property damage, fire suppression and environmental impact, the Star Tribune said.

A unit of New York-based Fortress Investment Group is buying the railroad and changing its name to Central Maine and Quebec Railway.


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