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Huge N.D. oil spill burns into second day; weather shift threatens Casselton


BNSF Railway Co. said it believed about 20 cars caught fire after its oil train left the tracks about 2:10 p.m. Monday. The sheriff's office said it thought 10 cars were on fire.

The cars continued to burn past sunset, and authorities said they would be allowed to burn out.

The Democrats weigh in:

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said the incident raises concerns about rail safety, especially given the increase in the use of rail to transport oil.

"We're just seeing an enormous increase," she told MPR's Morning Edition. "We need to upgrade our rail lines and make sure it's safe."

Klobuchar said she has also supported pipeline expansion, as long as adequate measures are put in place to ensure safety.

"We've seen problems with them, too, but clearly pipelines are part of the solution here," she said.

God forbid a carbon-negative economy could be part of the solution!

UPDATE Oil is bad, bad stuff. "Light" and "sweet" are such misnomers:

The fire had been so intense as darkness fell that investigators couldn't even get close enough to count the number of burning cars. Some burned through the night.

"Is it highly hazardous or did most of it burn off in the fire?" Casselton Sheriff Paul Laney said of elements in burning crude that could be risky for health. "We just don't know."

The derailment shook the town with a series of explosions that sent flames and black smoke skyward. Health experts said they did not yet have results on the air quality early Tuesday.

Sheriff's Deputy Joe Crawford said the fire died down overnight, "but we've still got plenty of smoke and plenty of fire and plenty of heat."

Laney said much of Casselton's water tower was covered in soot and that he expects to see a lot of the black powder around town as the day progresses.

"Wait until you see the footprints in the snow later on,"
he said. "That's the stuff coming out of the sky."

Yes. The smoke doesn't just "blow away."

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Submitted by MontanaMaven on

This is the only news anybody talked about last night at the watering hole. The trains travel through our town about 1/4 mile from where we all are sitting smack in the middle of downtown. Then again, quite a few men from here work in the oil fields of North Dakota since it's the only "good money" around. Then again, it rained last night. Rained! Not really supposed to rain in January. So much confusion! Everybody just shakes their heads a lot and changes the subject back to football.

Submitted by MontanaMaven on

OK, But I'll have to make it an assignment. I did not ask any probing questions last night as I was sipping my 2nd Martini and I have laid off politics. I did say that we would all have been incinerated like those people in Maine/Canada. I could see people's hair stand on end, but not much though past that. So maybe the next step would be to ask if there is anything we can do about it or are we just a bunch of sheeple waiting for it to happen in our town. This town, by the way, was a great sheep raising place 100 years ago. The local team are the "Sheepherders". Yeh, the "Fightin' Sheepherders"! Nope, I see little fight amongst these rugged individualists so I don't expect them to change much. But there are glimmers of some sort of comprehension that things are not good. What questions should I ask?

Submitted by lambert on

Hmm.... I was thinking of the sheer human interest, but of course if the story is "They are trying not to think..." that might not be a good use of your time.

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I'm wondering if you might care to try some of the techniques Affinis dug up here:

Avoiding reactance:

Appealing to benevolence: