The Forum: Franken adds to push for more rail inspectors
MOORHEAD – U.S. Sen. Al Franken spent part of Monday afternoon driving down Main Avenue alongside the railroad tracks in Moorhead, where five-plus trains haul millions of gallons of Bakken crude east through the city every day.
That traffic – which Moorhead Mayor Del Rae Williams said she expects to increase – plus the fiery derailment in Casselton, N.D., on Dec. 30 – make the trains that cross through town a major public safety issue.
“Imagine if that had happened in Moorhead,” the Minnesota Democrat said of the crash, in which a train carrying crude collided with a derailed grain train just a half-mile west of Casselton. “What happened in Casselton, we don’t want to happen again.”
Franken is one of more than a dozen senators who signed on to a letter urging a Senate Appropriations subcommittee to set up a fund to help train first responders, perform additional research and add railroad inspectors to understaffed federal agencies.