ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Still no final report 2 years after fiery Casselton oil crash

CASSELTON, N.D.--Two years after a fiery oil train derailment in the eastern North Dakota town of Casselton, federal investigators still have not released their final report on what caused it.

Train cars derail, oil cars catch fire
A fire from a train derailment burns uncontrollably as seen in this aerial photograph Monday, Dec. 30, 2013, west of Casselton, N.D. (Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service file photo)

CASSELTON, N.D.--Two years after a fiery oil train derailment in the eastern North Dakota town of Casselton, federal investigators still have not released their final report on what caused it.

Casselton Mayor Lee Anderson said he thought the National Transportation Safety Board's report would be released sooner.

The agency has indicated that a bad train car axle probably caused the crash, but a full report--including analysis, conclusions and a probable cause statement--will come out "at a later date," the agency said in April.

"If it could reveal any more answers, that would be great," Anderson said of the final report. "I think they came up with that initial theory quite quickly after the derailment. ... It would be nice to know, one way or another, if they can actually determine that."

The derailment involving two BNSF trains on Dec. 30, 2013, a half-mile west of Casselton, drew national attention. A westbound train carrying grain derailed and struck an eastbound train carrying crude oil. Oil cars exploded and sent thick black smoke into the air. Government officials told Casselton's 2,400 residents to evacuate. No one was injured.

ADVERTISEMENT

Casselton Fire Chief Tim McLean said a final report on the crash "wouldn't hurt," but he said he has all the answers he needs.

He said he received 3,000 pages of documents related to the crash. "I don't know how many more pages they could add to it," McLean said.

In April, federal investigators released 1,800 documents containing facts, but not analysis, stemming from the rail accident.

"My understanding was it had a flaw in the axle of the grain train, which broke and caused the whole thing," McLean said.

He said he was pleased with safety improvements since the crash.

"There's been a lot of changes," he said, including more inspectors.

Another derailment just west of Casselton, on Nov. 13, 2014, also prompted change. That derailment, which involved a train carrying lumber and another train carrying empty crude oil cars, was caused by a broken rail, according to BNSF.

Since then, rail has been replaced through Casselton and extending some distance out of town, McLean and Anderson said.

ADVERTISEMENT

Those changes are good, McLean said, and oil train traffic through Casselton today, compared to a year ago, is "noticeably less"-- at least for now.

"Someday, we'll get back up there again," he said.

Related Topics: CASSELTON
What To Read Next
Local Non-Profit organizations set to receive critical financial support for programs and services
“Why would we create new major programs, when we can’t even fund the programs that we have?” a public education lobbyist said in opposition to Noem's three-year, $15 million proposal.
An investigation found that students used racial slurs and actions toward minority basketball players from Bismarck High School.
Members Only
Morton County State's Attorney Allen Koppy proposes plea deal in negligent homicide case that could see accused avoid jail and criminal record