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News Release: Train Derailment Press Conference Update
Contact: Sgt. Tara Morris
Phone: (701) 429-8593
Train Derailment Press Conference Summary
A train derailment occurred yesterday, December 30 at 2:10 p.m. one mile west of Casselton. Ten cars of a westbound train transporting grain derailed causing an eastbound train transporting crude oil to derail. Eighteen cars and the engine of the eastbound train derailed causing multiple explosions and fire. The Cass County Sheriff’s Office had 64 deputies respond to the incident and the Casselton Fire Department had 20 volunteer firefighters respond.
Casselton residents were strongly encouraged to evacuate. The Sheriff’s Office estimates that 65% of the town’s residents have evacuated. An emergency shelter has been set up at Discovery Middle School in Fargo. Nineteen people and two pets checked in last night. As of 8:00 a.m. this morning nine people remained.
Amy McBeth, public information officer for Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad (BNSF) stated that they have a hazardous materials (HAZMAT) crew on site. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is also on site conducting an investigation.
McBeth said BNSF has a claims hotline set up for residents displaced by the incident. The hotline number is 1-866-243-4784. A local claims center will open on Thursday, January 2 at the Casselton Days Inn from 8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Residents can call the hotline or visit the claims center to file claims for expenses associated with the evacuation. Business interruption forms will also be available. A driver’s license and proof of residency will be required.
The Centers for Toxicology and Environmental Health are assessing air quality. According to Dr. Alan Nye, senior toxicologist from the Centers for Toxicology and Environmental Health the air quality is in a good range. Entities involved will determine when it is safe for residents to return and communicate those decisions as soon as they are made.