Lac Megantic recovers and rebuilds

LAC MEGANTIC, Canada (NEWS CENTER) -- It's been 10 months since a runaway train carrying 2-million gallons of crude oil crashed into the town of Lac Megantic.

Fire burned through the downtown area for nearly 2 days, destroying 40 buildings and leaving nearly 40 others inaccessible inside what's called "the red zone," 50-acres of contaminated land.

It was a devastating blow to the town, even to Mainers just across the border; many lost family members and friends and hundreds were out of work for months.... a number of them still are.

Ten months after the train derailed, crashing first into a bar called Musi-Cafe, there's new construction. Just one street up from the red zone, the Musi-Cafe should have a new home by the end of the summer, and a brand new downtown has been built, slowly filling with shops.

Officials tell us about 300 jobs were lost when the train crashed into downtown, and now about half have been restored.

Fifteen to twenty different construction projects are in full swing, including a connection between the two downtowns - the old one sits within the red zone - right now, while you can see the other side, it takes about 10 minutes to drive there. Even the rail line has been rebuilt, though oil is no longer passing through town by train.

They are currently deciding on a plan to clear the "red zone," including chemicals or trucking out all of the old contaminated dirt, and bringing new ground in. It's a project expected to cost around $200-million - the governments of Ottawa and Quebec will share that cost.

In the meantime, Lac Megantic has received help from the federal government and from Quebec, a total of $120-million, but it will take a lot more money and time to rebuild. Officials estimate the town won't be fully functional again for another 5 years.


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