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North Dakota Town Evacuated After Massive Train Derailment

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Casselton, NDResidents of Casselton, in North Dakota, are heeding the advice of the North Dakota Department of Health and evacuating their homes after a major train crash occurred Monday just outside town.

The 1.6-km-long train carrying crude oil derailed at 2:10 pm local time Monday. The following explosion sent a fireball and massive clouds of toxic black smoke billowing up into the air about a mile from the town’s perimeter. The accident has the town’s major calling for changes in how the fuel is transported across the US.

The North Dakota Department of Health warned that health hazards associated with exposure to burning crude include shortness of breath, coughing and itching and watery eyes. It had said those in the vicinity with respiratory conditions such as asthma, bronchitis or emphysema should minimize outdoor activity, the CBC reports.

While no one was hurt in the explosion, the fire had been so intense that investigators were unable to get close enough to count the number of rail cars still burning. Mayor Ed McConnell said that most residents are evacuating as strong winds blew potentially hazardous smoke their direction overnight Monday. "I drove in this morning and looked like most people had left. There weren't a lot of lights on," McConnell said.

Cass County Sheriff's Sgt. Tara Morris said Tuesday that a contractor hired by the railroad was testing air quality and while the readings indicated improvements, authorities did not yet feel it safe enough to "give the all-clear."

Residents said explosions continued for hours following the derailment. The blasts shook their homes and businesses. Official estimates of the extent of the blaze vary, with BNSF Railway Co., who owns the train, stating it’s likely about 20 cars caught fire. Cass County sheriff's office said Monday it thought 10 cars were on fire. Officials said the cars would be allowed to burn out.

While this accident is horrific, it could have been much worse, as the train tracks run straight through the middle of Casselton, a town of 2,400 people. McConnell estimated that dozens of people could have been killed if the derailments had happened within city limits. He said it is time to "have a conversation" with federal lawmakers about the dangers of transporting oil by rail.

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READER COMMENTS

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Perhaps the US should consider maintaining our Rail System better than we do...We have been transporting oil and 'dangerous/flammable' substances by rail for as long as the Rails have existed. Did it before trucking and along with horse and buggy.
What would you have the Fed do? Regulate how every item gets to commercial markets, make it impossible for any commerce in this country and/or all merchandise become cost prohibitive?
The era of "The Sue Everybody" green lawsuit must end. Lawyers have become rapacious and people so hot to get on a "buy off" suit without any real injuries so they are set for life precludes morality, responsibility and caring about our fellow man and environment.
People need to accept responsibilty and look for solutions to problems that cause tragedy.
Regulating the Pharmaceutical Industry and PREVENTING HARM is a better solution than: Contact the So and So Law Firm to sue for injury or death.

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