|Photo from ABC News|
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) (http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2014/Casselton_ND_Preliminary.pdf) 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.