LAC-MEGANTIC, QUEBEC - Shipping from Tafisa's large thermofused melamine panel plant here was temporarily hobbled by the massive and deadly July 6 oil train wreck.
The Montreal Gazette reports that the MM&A Railway oil train explosion, which took 50 lives and leveled the downtown, blocked access to a rail spur by the 650,000-square-foot Tafisa panel plant. Ordinarily 50 to 60 carloads of melamine panel were shipped by rail from the plant, just east of the site of the explosion. Tafisa, a unit of Sonae Industria of Portugal, opened the plant in 1992.
For a period the plant shipped panel products by truck to Drummondville, where they were transferred to rail for shipping throughout North America. While one customer told the local Gazzette the added expense for trucking increased prices, President Louis Brassard issued a statement that said the impact would be minimal.
Customers situated in Quebec, Ontario, the Maritimes, the U.S. Northeast and parts of the U.S. Midwest are serviced by truck. The interruption of rail service does not in any way impact these markets. As indicated above, shipments to these markets have been resumed on July 9 and it has been business as usual since that date. The vast majority of Tafisa products shipped by rail are bound for markets in the US Midwest, the U.S. Southeast and Western Canada. These products represent 30% of our total production. Our logistics group is developing a model to enable Tafisa to continue to ship by rail to these markets via reload centres. We are confident that there should be no impact on our service levels going forward.
Canadian transportation authorities were weighing underwriting costs until the 72 derailed cars can be removed and the rail line was restored, the Gazzette reported.
Tafisa Canada employs 300 at the plant, which it describes as “the largest, most modern particleboard and thermofused melamine production facility in North America.” In April of 2006, Tafisa's plant was jolted by an explosion and fire that crippled its wood panel manufacturing capabilities. Less than two years later, Tafisa returned to full production. Tafisa celebrated its 20th anniversary last year.
Eyewitness Adrian Aubert posted the video below, which captures his surprised reaction to a secondary explosion on July 6, 2013.
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