A mile-long train carrying crude oil Monday exploded when colliding with another train, triggering a “giant fireball” and thousands of people fleeing their homes to prevent being poisoned in North Dakota.
Shelters have been established for over 2,400 residents of Casselton and nearby areas under voluntary evacuation. They had first been told to shelter in place.
One of the trains, belonging to BNSF Railway, was carrying over 100 cars loaded with crude oil.
"They can’t fight the fire due to the extremes of the explosion and high temperatures," Sgt. Tara Morris of the Cass County Sheriff's Office told the Los Angeles Times. "They’re just letting the oil burn off at this point.”
Human Species In the Shadow of Chemical Valley
“This has happened before and will inevitably happen again, unless a lot of changes are made,” said human and enviornmental rights singer-songwriter David Rollics this morning in an email. “My latest CD includes the song, “Oil Train” (click title to stream or download), about an identical incident last summer involving an extremely long train full of North Dakota oil that derailed and exploded in Quebec, killing 47 people.”
This is the fourth fossil fuel train disaster this year. In July, a train with 72 tank cars carrying crude from North Dakota’s Bakken shale fields rolled downhill and set off a major explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing over 40 people. Two other accidents soon followed.
The sheriff’s office said the National Weather Service has forecasted a wind shift that would push the smoke plume down, possibly posing a health risk.
“It’s burning very strong right now,” said Assistant Chief Gary Lorenz of the City of Fargo Fire Department, who was in touch with a crew on the scene. “You can see the plume of smoke for 25 miles.”
People breathing high levels of benzene may develop the following signs and symptoms within minutes to several hours, according to the Center for Disease Control:
- Rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Death (at very high levels)
“If you can smell it, you’ve been poisoned,” according to toxicologists. (See: Vampire of Macondo, Life, crimes and curses in south Louisiana that Powerful Forces Don’t want you to know,)
“The Federal Railroad Administration and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration have investigative teams en route to North Dakota and will work in concert with the National Transportation Safety Board, the lead investigator, to ascertain all the relevant facts that may have contributed to the accident,” Kevin Thompson, a Federal Railroad Administration spokesman, told NBC News.
This latest fossil fuel accident sent flames shooting over 100 feet into the air.
Injuries have been immediately reported.
Up to 10 cars were fully engulfed.
‘Tar Sands Kill, Pipelines Spill’
Friday, Canadian front page news, with a half-page photo, covered a First Nation oil pipeline and fracking protest demonstration called ”Toxic Tour.”
The protest drew attention to human health and environmental impacts of living near fossil fuel pipelines and other related industries.
Approximately 50 First Nation members and supporters left the community centre parking lot in the early afternoon chanting, “tar sands kill, pipelines spill,” on their way to the St. Clair River, and then on along St. Clair Parkway to LaSalle Line and east to Highway 40.
“We’re standing in solidarity with other communities who are standing up to fracking and to pipelines running through their territories,” said Vanessa Gray, a spokesperson with Aamjiwnaang and Sarnia Against Pipelines (ASAP).
Police stopped traffic on the parkway when several protesters climbed down the bank to the St. Clair River to offer tobacco to the water.
The marchers protested fracking, the hazardous method of drilling for natural gas, and Enbridge’s Line 9, a pipeline from Sarnia to Montreal.
The march route travelled near the pipeline, and next to Shell’s refinery where there are plans to build a liquid natural gas facility.
“We are literally on the front line of a number of different issues here,” Gray said, echoing sentiments of Dakota First Nation people.
“It puts our health at risk, it puts our land at risk, what we have left of it.”
Canadian protests have escalated against Enbridge Line 9 pipeline as government of Ontario refuses to conduct an environmental assessment.
Human Rights news reporter Deborah Dupré is author of Vampire of Macondo, Life, crimes and curses in south Louisiana that Powerful Forces Don’t want you to know, 450 pages packed with corporate-government media-censored stories about the BP-wrecked Macondo Prospect in the Gulf of Mexico that continues catastrophic human and environmental devastation.