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Report puts train crash damage estimate at $6.1 million

CASSELTON, N.D. – Nearly all of the tank cars involved in a fiery train crash near here last month punctured in the wreck, spilling more than 400,000 gallons of crude oil and causing $6.1 million in damage, according to a preliminary report released Monday by federal investigators.

According to the report by the National Transportation Safety Board:

The crash happened the afternoon of Dec. 30 and involved two BNSF trains. Thirteen cars from a westbound grain train derailed, and one of the derailed cars ended up on the adjacent track.

An oncoming train hauling crude oil struck the derailed train, causing the two lead locomotives of the oil train and its first 21 cars to derail. Twenty of those cars were carrying oil, and of those, 18 were punctured.

In all, the grain train had 112 cars and the oil train had 106 cars.

The investigation showed that the grain train was traveling about 28 mph when emergency brakes were applied. The oil train was going about 43 mph when the train crew applied emergency brakes. The estimated speed at the time of the crash was 42 mph.

The maximum speed for trains on that stretch of track is 60 mph.

In the wreckage, investigators found a broken axle and two wheels that were shipped to the NTSB laboratory in Washington, D.C., for more analysis.

No one was injured in the crash or subsequent explosions fueled by the oil. During a voluntary evacuation of Casselton, about 1,400 residents left town.

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