INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 18, 2014, 06:11 PM

BNSF officials meet with North Dakota leaders about how to prevent derailments

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Less than three weeks after the explosive train derailment and collision in Casselton, lawmakers are hard at work trying to figure out how to make rail transportation safer. The North Dakota delegation, governor, local mayors, and law enforcement met with BNSF officials to talk about how to prevent derailments.

By: Becky Parker, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Less than three weeks after the explosive train derailment and collision in Casselton, lawmakers are hard at work trying to figure out how to make rail transportation safer.

The North Dakota delegation, governor, local mayors, and law enforcement met with BNSF officials to talk about how to prevent derailments.

It started as an update on the steps that are being taken to prevent this from ever happening again.

Sen. John Hoeven/(R) North Dakota: "Focus on safety. Everything is about what can we do to make sure crude is moved safely."

A meeting at Fargo city hall brought everyone together North Dakota's national delegation, governor, and local mayors.

But once BNSF representatives put in their two cents.

Roger Nober/BNSF Executive VP: "A scary incident and one that imposed a lot of hardships on people."

It opened the floor for questions and criticism.

Ed McConnell/Casselton Mayor: "It's a question of trust. My town, we don't trust you guys anymore."

There have been four derailments in the Casselton area over roughly nine years; BNSF says each incident had unrelated causes, ranging from heat expanding the rails, to an inspection miss.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp/(D) North Dakota: "One or two might be coincidence, four is - there's something there. Let's find out what it is."

BNSF says their safety measures are always improving, and 2013 was actually the railroad's safest year; they use both visual inspections and mechanical detectors along the railway.

David Freeman/BNSF VP of Transportation: "Every 20 to 40 miles, there's a mechanized system that looks at axles, wheels, dragging equipment."

The inspections become more stringent with cars carrying volatile substances like oil; but that's little comfort when the car that caused the derailment in this case was not the one carrying crude but the one carrying grain.

Heitkamp: "It's not just making sure that they key trains or this train is in tip-top shape. But all the trains need to be in tip top shape if we are in fact going to be doing the best we can do to promote and guarantee public safety."

BNSF: "And we agree 100%."

After meetings in Washington, railcar manufacturers have agreed to start evaluating safety improvements to tanker cars, and the oil industry will begin testing Bakken crude to see how volatile it really is.

Tags: