Freight Trains and Safety: First Responders Say they're Not Prepared

Updated: 03/20/2014 5:26 AM
Created: 03/19/2014 4:49 PM
By: Jessica Miles

Freight trains are carrying massive amounts of new oil that are more volatile form from North Dakota and if one were to derail in Minnesota, like the one in Casselton, North Dakota in December, many first responders say they wouldn't be prepared.

The fire chief from Winona told Representative Tim Walz his department would only have 18 minutes worth of foam to squelch an oil fire, the type that can burn for days.

Winona, and some other communities like Big Lake, Royalton and Wayzata are pushing for changes.

"I think the majority would like to see increased training in how you deal with these types of scenarios, in addition, how we tap into resources if you have something like this happen," said Big Lake Police Chief Joel Scharf.

Scharf says his community has between 60 and 70 trains, mainly freight trains, pass through daily.

Congressman Walz also says the 4,500 miles of track in the state have only one inspector. He says the cars that carry that new North Dakota oil are 40 to 50-years-old and need to be upgraded.

Wednesday's meeting was a chance for communities to voice concerns and talk about what kinds of changes need to be made.

Walz says some changes, like increased training for first responders could start immediately, while others will likely take years.


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