Federal investigators said Thursday they found a broken axle at the scene of
Monday’s derailment and fire in Casselton, N.D. It is too soon to tell if that
was a factor in the accident. Also Thursday, the U.S. Department of
Transportation issued a safety alert concerning oil shipments by rail.
The Department of Transportation said it would conduct unannounced inspections of railcars.
The oil that burned in Monday’s derailment came from the Bakken region. Encompassing parts of Montana and North Dakota, it is one of the most active oil fields in the U.S., producing almost 1 million barrels a day.
But, according to government officials, it’s a type of oil that may be more flammable than traditional crude oil. Much of the oil from the Bakken region reaches its destination by rail.
The wakeup call for the freight train industry came last summer in Quebec, Canada, when a train carrying oil derailed in a small town. Forty-seven people died as the oil burned.