Weather-related rail service delays could cost Crystal Sugar millions

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American Crystal Sugar says it's been forced to cut back on production due to a slowdown in rail service caused by harsh winter weather – something that could cost the company millions of dollars if circumstances don't change, KVVR reports.

Output from the cooperative's plants in East Grand Forks, Minnesota, and Hillsboro and Drayton, North Dakota, have been hampered by the wave of blizzards and subzero temperatures in the region, The Associated Press says.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) spokeswoman Amy McBeth said Wednesday that the railway company is putting a priority on serving Crystal Sugar "through proactive measures that will help in light of the difficult current conditions."

Crystal Sugar President and CEO David Berg currently characterizes the situation as a "minor slowdown" at this point, but massive losses and waste are possible if the company doesn't get back on schedule.

North Dakota Sens. John Hoeven and Heidi Heitkamp have also weighed in on the slowdown, and have reached out to BNSF officials to help resolve the issue.

The weather-related slowdown marks another huge setback for BNSF.

In December, a westbound BNSF train carrying soybeans derailed about a half-mile west of Casselton, North Dakota, slamming into an eastbound 109-car BNSF train carrying crude oil, resulting in a fiery explosion.

Forum Communications said 65 percent of the 2,300 residents of the town – located about 25 miles west of Fargo – fled in a voluntary evacuation after the crash.

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