Thursday, January 16, 2014

Casselton Train Collision and Derailment

Photo from ABC News
Another accident that you might have missed over the break - On Monday, December 30, 2013 at about 2:11 pm CST a westbound train carrying grain derailed 13 cars (out of 112 cars) near Casselton, North Dakota. One of the derailed cars ended up blocking the adjacent tracks. An oncoming eastbound train carrying crude oil collided with the car, resulting in the head locomotive and the first 21 cars of the train jumping the tracks. The crews of each train were able to escape before the cars exploded into flames. Authorities report that there were probably four more explosions in the next hour to hour and a half and the sky filled with black smoke (different news agencies report 3 -5 explosions). The first explosion was heard miles away and flames could be seen over two miles away. 

Concerns about toxic clouds of smoke billowing from burning oil prompted a voluntary evacuation of Casselton, and about 1,400 residents left town. The Federal Aviation Administration put flight restrictions in place over the area due to the smoke.

Photo from the Minneapolis Star Tribune

Twenty of the derailed cars were DOT-111 tank cars (which apparently have known design flaws) carrying crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken formation and the remaining car was a hopper car loaded with sand.  Eighteen of the tank cars were breached in the accident releasing an estimated 425,000 - 450,000 gallons of crude oil, making this one of the largest oil spills to occur in the US in decades according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) ( Damage has been estimated at $6.1 million. According to a preliminary report from the NTSB was released on Monday (1/13), neither train was speeding and investigators found a broken axle and two wheels in the wreckage that were shipped to the NTSB laboratory in Washington, D.C., to determine if they played a role in the crash. The report does not offer an explanation of what caused the soybean train to derail.

This is the third major train accident involving Bakken oil in North America in the last six months.  The worst accident was in July, when an oil train blast killed dozens in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, and resulted in a spill of about 1.5 million gallons.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Hi! I do read all of the comments and want to let you know that I really appreciate your stopping by and taking the time to leave a note. Work has fallen in on me and I have not had enough time to reply coherently lately so I apologize preemptively but still want to assure you that your comments are valued. I am using comment moderation to avoid using more annoying spam avoidance. Thanks for your patience.