Yesterday, December 30 2013 a train was derailed just west of Casselton ND, causing not only a flux in smoke to the community, but also putting it’s citizens in the front row to watch and feel the giant explosions as they happened. The first train was derailed due to it hitting the wrong tracks, causing 10 cars to go off of their course. It was soon after hit by an eastbound Bakken crude oil train, which caused the explosion.
“It was almost like something out of a horror movie”
Entering Casselton on the day following the event, you could almost taste the oil in the frigid air. The Shale Plays Media crew drove around the small town trying to find a viable point to take photos of the still smoking train wreckage. There was only one lookout point that was not blocked off by police officers, so we perched there.
As we were taking pictures there were several other cars pulling up behind us to watch the smoking train, which was seemed now to be producing more and more toxic black smoke. We talked to Richard Kjonaas, a local man who told his entire perspective of the crash explosion. He works almost directly behind the crash site, maybe a quarter mile away. He didn’t hear or see the first explosion, but he felt it.
He exclaimed that he and his coworker were sitting in his pickup trying to see what was going on after the first explosion and that “You could feel the heat inside his pickup from the [second] explosion” which was the same thing that the woman who was working at the nearby gas station at the time of the derailment said happened to her and everyone else who was working. Kjonaas said there was around five explosions total at the time of the derailment.
A wave of heat had engulfed the entire city, which was later evacuated by 65% of its residents, it seemed to be back to normal today while we were there.
On our way out we also ran into an air quality monitor vehicle from CTEH. She said that the air was “looking good” and seemed to be improving quickly. There is no C02, nitrogen, sulfur dioxide, or any other volatile organic compounds in the air.