Forum News Service's Don Davis reports in Minnesotans in oil train ‘danger zones’ urged to prepare:
The 326,170 Minnesotans who live near railroad tracks carrying North Dakota crude oil should be prepared for a train accident, a state emergency management official says.
“If you live by the train, people need to take some personal awareness of what’s around them,” Kevin Reed of the Minnesota Homeland Security and Emergency Management department said. “‘How do I get out of the way before the fire department gets here?'”
Minnesotans should answer in advance questions such as “what would I take with me?” he added.
Here in our world headquarters in sunny Maynard, three blocks for the BNSF tracks, the answer to the second question is easy: grab the cat and run like the dickens.
The first gives us greater pause, since the fire department is a couple of blocks closer to the tracks than our domicile. An explosion is more like to get the fire department "out of the way."
In greater Minnesota, Winona in the southeastern part of the state has the most residents near tracks, 22,325. Clay County, where most Bakken oil enters Minnesota, has 19,499 residents near the tracks.
Stearns, Benton and Sherburne counties in the St. Cloud area combine for 38,365 residents in the danger zone.
Most Bakken oil trains come into Minnesota in Moorhead, go through the Twin Cities and then south along the Mississippi River. Some oil trains head south to Willmar then out the southwest corner of the state.
Since there's an ethanol plant on the tracks south of Maynard, we'd thought the many tanker trains rumbling through town were filled with ethanol--still flammable, but not as spectacularly so as Bakken oil.
Here's the map (Chippewa County is pale green, but that's mostly because the population in these parts isn't very dense.
Photo: A long tanker train parked just north of Maynard, looking south toward the Cargill elevator. It's been there a couple of days. It's possible it's empty, waiting to fill up at the ethanol plant south of town on Highway 212.
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