North Dakota Town Moving Forward After Oil Train Derailment, Explosion

Repost from KFYR-TV, Bismarck, ND

Heimdal Residents Move Forward After Oil Train Derailments

By Megan Mitchell, Nov 03, 2015 9:55 AM

Six months ago Heimdal, N.D., made headlines for a oil train derailments. The accident forced the evacuation of the entire town. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues to investigation the incident and is focusing on wheel fragments recovered at the scene.

No cause for the crash has been identified at this point.

The NTSB has sent the evidence the collected to a metallurgy testing lab in Washington, D.C. Metallurgists specialize in the physical and chemical behavior of metals. Their examination could take another year to complete. In the meantime, residents of Heimdal have returned to their homes and routines.

Sparky is an affectionate 9-year-old border collie cross. His friendly disposition is second only to the loyalty he has for his owners Arden and Linda Georgensen.

Arden Georgensen is a resident of Heimdal and says the dog never leaves his wife’s side.

“If I can’t find her in the yard I can find the dog. He’s always with her,” Arden said.

On May 6, 2015 neither Linda or Arden could find Sparky when they were forced to evacuate their home without their beloved dog.

“I saw this big plume I thought it was a tornado the way it looked because it was swirling,” Arden said.

An oil train derailed just half a mile from their farm, spewing 60,000 gallons of Bakken crude. That’s when firefighters came knocking.

“They said you need to get out right now ’cause if those tanks explode it’s hard to say what’ll happen out here,” Arden said.

It was a long night wondering whether Sparky would be there when they returned.

Linda went back the next morning and was overjoyed.

“It was a good feeling to see him laying there ’cause when we got home here he was by the door like usual,” Linda said.

Oil production in the Bakken has drastically declined, but tanker trains continue to roll through Heimdal every day. Despite what happened there, residents say they’re not overly concerned when they hear an engine whistle sound.

Curt Benson saw the oil train derail and was the first person to contact emergency management.

“It’s still a concern, but yeah, if you’re only getting five trains a day instead of 20 trains a day sure it’s a little less of a concern,” Benson said.

Other residents aren’t sidetracked by worry.

“You just have that risk. There’s a certain amount of risk just being alive,” Bill Ongstad said.

BNSF is still cleaning up the site, but it appears the landscape around Heimdal is almost restored.

“I have to say they did a pretty bang up job. I think seeing all of them come out here with all the equipment and the time they put in, it certainly makes you feel confident that they probably did a good job,” Benson said.

The 22 residents of Heimdal and Sparky are living in the moment and moving on.

The NTSB said the wheel fragments from the accident were sent to those metallurgy labs two and a half weeks ago.

The agency says they look at everything associated with this accident and no conclusions have been drawn.

Flag as irrelevant