Brian Stevens first learned about the Lac-Megantic disaster — in which an unattended oil train caught fire and exploded, killing 47 people in the Quebec town — when he saw the news reports on TV.
Stevens is currently National Rail Director for Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, but he previously spent 16 years as an air-brake mechanic working on trains. At a recent conference in Ottawa examining lessons from the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster, he recounted his reaction to seeing those initial scenes of destruction.
“That ain’t Canada, that can’t happen in North America because our brake systems won’t allow that,” he said when he eventually learned the images he was seeing were from Canada. “My heart sank … It was crushing.”