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Energy & Environment

Dalrymple: BNSF open to making changes following Casselton derailment

North Dakota Gov.Jack Dalrymple says he believes the BNSF Railway wants to help prevent derailments like the one last week near Casselton from happening.

An eastbound train with tanker cars carrying Bakken crude oil struck derailed cars from a westbound grain train at a railroad switch. It caused explosions and fire – and also caused the voluntary evacuation of Casselton.

Dalrymple met with BNSF’s Matt Rose this past weekend in Texas.

"He (Rose) agreed that it is about getting the tank cars renovated as quickly as possible," said Dalrymple. "It's also about recoginizing that Bakken crude is more volatile than other types of crude oil."

Dalrymple says he talked to Rose about operating rules, and about improving communications. He says it appears the two trains involved in the derailment of oil tanker cars near Casselton last week weren’t talking to each other – and when the crew of the train carrying the tankers realized there was a problem – it was too late.

"A direct alarm would have been more expedient," said Dalrymple. "They're looking into that."

Dalrymple says BNSF is also getting "very serious" into what the railroad calls "positive control."

"That means they could stop a locomotive from Ft. Worth, based on a signal," said Dalrymple. "No action would be required from the train crew."

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