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Action Urged After Another Fiery ND Oil Train Derailment

PHOTO: After another fiery oil train derailment in North Dakota, some are asking for stronger requirements on the stabilization of oil before transportation, either statewide or nationally. Photo credit: Jennifer Willis/Facebook.
PHOTO: After another fiery oil train derailment in North Dakota, some are asking for stronger requirements on the stabilization of oil before transportation, either statewide or nationally. Photo credit: Jennifer Willis/Facebook.
May 7, 2015

HEIMDAL, N.D. - The calls for more safety precautions and oversight again are being made after yet another fiery oil train derailment in North Dakota. The latest happened Wednesday morning near the town of Heimdal, forcing evacuations in the community and surrounding farmsteads.

Don Morrison, executive director with the Dakota Resource Council, says the problem is there's a race to get the oil out of the ground and shipped as quickly as possible, with a transportation system that can't handle it.

"These train explosions are an indication the system is not working," says Morrison. "The railroads blame the oil companies and the oil companies blame the railroads and we have public officials who are failing to step up and make sure oil transportation is safe."

No injuries or fatalities were reported with Wednesday's oil train derailment, but the smoke from the fire did lead the North Dakota Department of Health to issue an advisory for those in the area with respiratory conditions.

This derailment and fire is the first since April 1, when North Dakota began a new requirement for companies to reduce the volatility of Bakken crude before transportation. But Morrison says that had little impact since most oil producers already were meeting that stipulation.

"There are several different options that we could do," says Morrison. "Number one is to put a moratorium on putting unsafe oil on railroad cars that can't handle it safely."

Morrison says the other options would be for North Dakota to further strengthen its rules on oil stabilization or for the U.S. Congress to pass the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act of 2015, which would require national oil stabilization standards.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND