Wednesday 1 January 2014

City evacuated after train derailmet causes huge oil explosion.

The city of Casselton, North Dakota, has been evacuated after a train derailment led to a huge oil explosion on Monday 30 December 2013. The incident happened slightly after 2 pm local time (slightly after 8 pm GMT) about 8 km to the northwest of the city, when a 112 car grain train derailed, hitting an oil carrying train of 106 cars, and derailing 20 of its cars, 19 of which were carrying oil. The accident triggered a fire which engulfed about 20 of the cars. Firefighters were able to detach and remove 50 of the 104 oil bearing cars, but the fire was deemed to dangerous to approach any closer, and will be left to burn itself. The city of Casselton, population 2432, was evacuated as a precaution, due to toxic fumes from the burning train and the danger of further explosions.

The burning train near Casselton, North Dakota, on Monday 20 December 2013. Ken Pawluk/AP.

Trains carrying crude oil have become an increasingly important part of the distribution system in North America as both production of and demand for oil has exceeded the capacity of the pipeline network. There have been a number of incidents involving derailments and oil spills, and concerns about the safety of the trains following an incident in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a 72 car oil train derailed and exploded, killing 47 people.

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