Jan 13 Eighteen of 20 tanker cars carrying oil
that derailed in the fiery crash of two trains in North Dakota
in late December were punctured, spilling more than 400,000
gallons of crude oil, safety regulators reported on Monday.
In a preliminary report, the National Transportation Safety
Board said that the oil train headed east struck a derailed car
from a westbound grain train, leading to the derailment and fire
about a mile (1.6 km) outside the small town of Casselton, North
Dakota, on Dec. 30.
Both trains were operated by BNSF Railway Co, more than 100
cars long each and were traveling well below the posted
65-mile-per-hour speed limit, the NTSB report said. BNSF is
owned by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc.
The grain train was traveling at 28 mph (45 km per hour) and
the oil train at 43 mph (69 kph) when emergency braking systems
were applied on both trains, the report said.
A series of powerful explosions and fireballs followed the
collision, with the blaze creating plumes of thick, black smoke
that passed over Casselton, forcing about 1,400 people in the
area from their homes. No injuries were reported.
The incident caused about $6.1 million in damage, according
to the NTSB report. A broken axle and two wheels were shipped to
the NTSB laboratory in Washington for further evaluation, as
were locomotive event and video recorders, the agency said.
The crash came five months after a runaway oil train
carrying Bakken crude derailed and exploded in the center of the
Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.
The incident fueled a drive for tougher standards for such
shipments, including potentially costly retrofits to improve the
safety of tank cars that regulators have cited as prone to
In early November, two dozen cars on another 90-car oil
train derailed in rural Alabama, erupting into flames that took
several days to fully extinguish.
The Association of American Railroads recently proposed
costly fixes to older tank cars that do not meet its latest
standards but continue to carry hazardous fuels such as oil.
The fixes include protective steel jackets, thermal
protection and pressure relief valves, which could cost billions
of dollars. Oil shippers, likely to be saddled with the costs of
retrofits, oppose some of the changes proposed by the