Quebec legislation passed in 2011, the Quebec Law on Environmental Quality, lays out conditions for such a financial punishment.
Its section 115.50 says top executives of a company unable to offer compensation after an environmental disaster must do so themselves, unless they can prove they acted with "prudence and diligence" to avoid the incident.
Meanwhile Thursday, the Prime Minister's Office released a letter of condolence from U.S. President Barack Obama.
In the undated letter, Obama expressed his sadness over the "devastating loss of life" and offered American help if needed.
He said he was heartened to learn of the help U.S. firefighters offered, just as Canadians in the past have stood by the U.S. in difficult times.
"Our assistance to one another in dealing with such accidents is a mark of our close friendship and partnership," he wrote.
"My government stands ready to offer any additional support Canada may need in the aftermath of this tragic accident."
Other foreign governments, the Pope and the Queen have offered similar condolences.
It's unclear when the Obama letter was sent. The PMO only released the letter after news of it surfaced publicly Thursday.