On Monday, a mile outside of Casselton, North Dakota, two trains collided around 2 p.m. CST, according to local time. One westbound 112-car train transporting soybeans derailed after being hit by an eastbound 106-car train containing crude oil where both were operated by BNSF Railway Co, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
The safety of allowing the transport of crude oil by rail has now been the subject of recent debates. Casselton Sheriff Paul Laney explained his concern. “Is it highly hazardous or did most of it burn off in the fire? We just don’t know.” He said before adding, “Wait until you see the footprints in the snow later on. That’s the stuff coming out of the sky.”
Fortunately, nobody was injured as a result of the accident. However, due to the thick smoke created by the subsequent explosions and to ensure the safety of investigators it was not feasible to initially place people within the vicinity to count the number of cars burning. Exhaustive efforts have been underway to secure the area, which has made possible the evaluation of the train cars. According to Cecily Fong, who is the public information officer for the North Dakota Department of Emergency Services, 56 oil cars still pose a threat. The two engines on the oil train were destroyed.
Residents located 5 miles away from Casselton were encouraged to evacuate their homes while residents 10 miles away were encouraged to stay indoors. According to Casselton resident Jolie Fiedler, “It’s better safe than sorry, just get out of town and dodge the smoke, I guess. I’m hoping that I can go home tomorrow, but who knows.”
Mayor Ed McConnell spoke about the residents affected by the ordeal. “I drove in this morning [early Tuesday] and looked like most people had left. There weren’t a lot of lights on,” he said.
Image Via NDN