Casselton explosion sparks House, Senate hearings on rail safety

Author:
Updated:
Original:

Ripples from a railroad accident that forced evacuation of a town near Fargo have reached Washington, D.C.

The Star Tribune reports both the House and Senate have scheduled hearings on rail safety this month. Some of the impetus came from Casselton, N.D., where oil tankers crashed into a derailed soybean train in December. The explosion and fire created a cloud of smoke that led authorities to clear the town.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar hailed the decision by the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation to hold a Thursday hearing. Klobuchar, who sits on the panel, had written to Chairman Jay Rockefeller calling for the hearing. She cited the Casselton accident as well as others in Canada and in Two Harbors in early December.

Similarly, Rep. Tim Walz, who serves on the House Transportation Committee and a subcommittee on railroads, requested a safety hearing last month. He applauded the announcement of a Feb. 26 hearing, saying residents of towns along rail routes deserve improved safety.

The hazards posed by a derailment or accident have risen along with the proportion of trains carrying crude oil. With pipelines in the region already at capacity, much of the oil from North Dakota's Bakken Formation is shipped by rail.

Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota tells the National Journal he wants to see more money approved for safety inspections of railroad tracks. "There's a recognition that we're moving a lot more crude by rail and we all need to work together to minimize the risk of fire or an explosion," Hoeven says. "And that means making sure that the tracks are safe and making sure that things are loaded and shipped properly."

At the state level, the Star Tribune reported last week that Gov. Mark Dayton has made proposals aimed at improving rail safety. That came on a day when members of a railroad workers union protested Canadian Pacific's safety practices outside the company's U.S. headquarters in Minneapolis.

Investigators are looking into what caused a Canadian Pacific train to splatter about half a tanker car of oil along tracks between Red Wing and Winona. A missing cap or valve was preliminarily listed as the cause.

Next Up

Liam Robbins

Gophers stay perfect at home by crushing 7th-ranked Michigan

Liam Robbins and Marcus Carr were too much for the previously undefeated Wolverines.

police lights

Four teens arrested over robberies in Minneapolis

They teens were found in a vehicle that was taken during an earlier carjacking.

Boundary Waters/BWCA

All BWCA visitors will now have to watch three 'Leave No Trace' videos

Visitors left an "unacceptably high amount" of damage last year.

ambulance

Ten fatal overdoses in past 6 weeks reported in region of northern MN

Law enforcement agencies have issued a plea to the general public.

u.s. district court minnesota - federal court minneapolis

Bracing for security threats, federal courthouses closing in Minnesota

Security is also being ramped up at the state capitol.

N95 mask

3M sues Florida company that sold 10K counterfeit N95 masks to HCMC

The Maplewood company has obtained a temporary injunction against the firm.

vaccine, covid

Walz, Whitmer, and Evers call on Trump Admin. to buy more vaccines

It comes after The Washington Post reported that the country's COVID vaccine reserves have been exhausted.

Karl-Anthony Towns

Wolves-Grizzlies game off, KAT tests postive for COVID

The Timberwolves star was among several players that are dealing with COVID-related issues.

minnesota state fair

Planning for the 2021 Minnesota State Fair is underway

The fair suffered huge financial losses due to COVID-19, but organizers are moving forward with planning "different scenarios" for this summer.

Related