Bakken Oil Train Derails

Train Derails in North Dakota
Train Derails in North Dakota

The tiny town of Heimdal, North Dakota, was evacuated early Wednesday morning after a BNSF Railway train derailed and burst into flames. No one was injured and fire crews from three nearby towns were called in to handle the blaze, which was extinguished by Wednesday evening.

BNSF confirmed that 107 of the train cars carried crude oil and the eight that derailed were the unjacketed CPC-1232 models that the federal government would like phased out by 2020 due to safety concerns.

This accident came just a few days after the Department of Transportation issued an emergency order that will require certain crude by rail trains to slow down in high threat areas.

Related: Speed Limits Coming for Crude by Rail

The Federal Railroad Administration issued a statement saying, “Today’s incident is yet another reminder of why we issued a significant, comprehensive rule aimed at improving the safe transport of high hazard flammable liquids. The FRA will continue to look at all options available to us to improve safety and mitigate risks.

In April, the NTSB sent a 10 page letter to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, urging that new regulations be adopted to improve the safety of crude by rail. Their recommendations include:

  1. All new and existing tank cars used to transport all Class 3 flammable liquids be equipped with thermal protection systems that meet or exceed the thermal performance standards
  2. All new and existing tank cars used to transport all Class 3 flammable liquids be equipped with appropriately sized pressure relief devices that allow the release of pressure under fire conditions and that minimizes the likelihood of energetic thermal ruptures
  3. An aggressive, intermediate progress milestone schedule, such as a 20 percent yearly completion metric over a 5-year implementation period, for the replacement or retrofitting of legacy DOT-111 and CPC-1232 tank cars to appropriate tank car performance standards
  4. Establishment of a publicly available reporting mechanism that reports at least annually

Since 2008, crude by rail transport has increased by 1700%  and accidents have risen nearly tenfold, including these since the first of the year:

  • 2/17/15: WV derailment carries Bakken crude in more
  • 2/14/15 Train carrying crude oil derails in Canada more
  • 3/6/15: Oil train carrying Bakken crude explodes in Illinois more
  • 3/7/15 Train carrying crude oil derails in Canada more
  • 3/8/15: Train carrying crude oil derails in northern Ontario more
  • 5/6/15: Train carrying Bakken crude derails near Heimdal, North Dakota