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Kyle Potter, Published February 05 2014

High-tech railroad device to inspect tracks around Casselton

WASHINGTON – Federal railroad regulators will send a special device to inspect track around Casselton, where four trains have derailed in less than a decade.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., announced in a news release Wednesday that the Automated Track Inspection Program, a fleet of cars that survey tracks for flaws, would deploy to Casselton. Heitkamp pressed the Federal Railroad Administration to further study the tracks around town after The Forum recently reported on the area’s track record with derailments.

Three derailments, including the fiery crash on Dec. 30, occurred in nearly the same spot, according to accident data from the FRA. A fourth happened two miles away.

“We deserve to know the condition of the tracks that run through our communities, and it’s crucial that those tracks are continually checked so our towns and families aren’t at risk,” Heitkamp said in the release. “It’s important the FRA has committed to look closely at the track quality around Casselton, which will go a long way to helping prevent future derailments.”

Heitkamp’s office expects the inspections to begin sometime in the coming months.

The Dec. 30 derailment in Casselton was the second-largest crude-by-rail spill in the U.S. in at least four decades, releasing nearly 475,000 gallons of oil, according to data recently released by the Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

More on the Automated Track Inspection Program.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kyle Potter at (701) 241-5502