Second derailment in less than a year in ND town raises rail safety concerns


More than 30 train cars derailed near Casselton, North Dakota Thursday evening.

While no injuries were reported in the incident, Valley News Live reports that officials in the community 25 miles west of Fargo are demanding answers. The derailment is the second in less than a year.

The Associated Press reported that an eastbound train carrying lumber and paper products collided with a westbound train hauling empty oil tankers. Dozens of firefighters, two ambulance services and dozens of sheriff's deputies responded to the derailment, concerned about a repeat performance of the fireball that followed a derailment in Casselton last December.

Residents were asked to evacuate because of smoke that drifted when rail cars burned. The explosion prompted increased calls for safety in shipping oil by rail.

The Fargo Forum reports that city and county officials were quick to call for action. Sheriff Paul Laney said he phoned North Dakota's U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp Thursday night to discuss the incident.

“We deserve some answers and I don’t think any of us want to hear anymore that this is a coincidence,” Laney said. “To have two derailments within one mile of each other, on the same set of tracks, in less than a year … I think we need some answers as to why it keeps happening.”

BNSF investigators are on the scene of the derailment on Friday morning, beginning their efforts to determine the cause of the derailment.

“We got lucky this time, the fact that these cars were empty. They derailed right next to the ethanol plant,” Laney said. “What if they had been full?”

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