Feds investigating Wisconsin oil train crash

The Federal Railroad Administration is investigation an oil train crash in Watertown, Wis., officials with agency said on Monday. 


A 13-car Canadian Pacific train crashed on Sunday, resulting in one tank car spilling Bakken crude oil near the Wisconsin town, according to the agency. 

“A Canadian Pacific train has derailed near Watertown, Wisconsin, and Federal Railroad Administration investigators and hazmat specialists are en route," the FRA said in a statement after news of the crash reached Washington. "Some of the tank cars were carrying crude oil.”

"FRA investigators have arrived in Watertown, Wis., where a @CanadianPacific train derailed earlier today," the agency tweeted later on Sunday. 

Canadian Pacific said it is cooperating with federal investigators as they try to learn about the cause of the crash. 

"CP confirms a derailment in Watertown, WI. Working closely with local authorities on response. Investigation is on-going." 

The Wisconsin crash is the latest in a series of accidents that have resulted in the transportation of crude oil by freight rail becoming a contentious issue in Washington. Lawmakers have sought widespread reforms since a pair of 2013 accidents in Casselton, N.D., and Quebec, Canada, spilled thousands of gallons of oil and caused explosions. 

The FRA has moved on its own to lower the speed limit for oil trains and require more frequent track inspections. The agency has also ordered freight rail companies to remove faulty parts it says have been involved in multiple oil train leaks. 

Safety advocates have pushed for the removal of older tank car models, which are known as DOT-111s, that have been blamed for high-profile crashes. They have also urged lawmakers to enforce a mandate for an automated train system known as Positive Train Control that was recently pushed back until 2018. 

Railroads and oil companies have argued that the from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, which has been the focus of the Transportation Department's regulatory effort, has gotten a bad rap because it was involved in the earlier crashes.