SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Nation/World

January 1, 2014

Safety questions after ND oil train derailment

CASSELTON, N.D. (AP) — A fiery oil train derailment’s near-miss of a small North Dakota town had its mayor angrily calling for federal officials to do more to guarantee the safety of the nation’s growing shipment of oil by rail.

Government regulators defended their record on moving hazardous materials by rail, noting that 2012 was the safest year in the industry’s history. But oil trains have bucked that trend, thanks in part to the massive amount of oil being moved out of western North Dakota, where the industry’s rapid growth is far outpacing pipeline development.

No one was hurt when the mile-long BNSF Railway train derailed Monday afternoon near the eastern North Dakota town of Casselton, but the overturned tankers — exploding and engulfed in plumes of flames and black smoke for more than 24 hours — burned so hot that emergency crews didn’t even attempt to put out the blaze. Most of Casselton’s roughly 2,400 residents agreed to temporarily evacuate due to concerns about unsafe air.

“This is too close for comfort,” Casselton Mayor Ed McConnell said yesterday.

While the overall rate of oil train accidents remains low — less than 0.1 percent of crude-carrying tank cars have suffered accidental releases this year — there’s been a sharp increase in the number of releases over the past several years. That’s driven by a surge in drilling for unconventional shale oil in North Dakota and other western states.

Through early November, the most recent data available, crude releases have been reported from 137 rail cars in 2013, according to an Associated Press analysis of federal accident records. By comparison, only one release was reported in 2009, before the boom got well underway.

The rail tracks in eastern North Dakota run through the middle of Casselton, about 25 miles west of Fargo. McConnell estimated that dozens of people could have been killed if the derailments had happened within the town.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Nation/World

Local News
  • City gets four bids for McKay School BEVERLY -- In the latest round of bids for the McKay School property, the city will consider four new proposals it received last week. The most recent proposals mark the fourth time the city has reviewed bids on the property and the second effort for

    August 20, 2014

  • Police to put down their pens, write electronic tickets BOSTON -- State troopers will soon toss handwritten tickets in favor of electronic citations to save money and time, and local police across the state could eventually follow suit. State police using the system will swipe or scan a driver's license t

    August 20, 2014

  • 140819_SN_DLE_VAPOR2 No 'butts' about it: Vapor stores pop up despite e-cig concerns Michael Greene sells e-cigarettes because they saved his life. And if they were available in the United States 17 years ago, they might have also spared his father, who smoked four packs of cigarettes a day for 40 years. "If you put too many regulati

    August 20, 2014 3 Photos

  • 140819_SN_DLE_MURPHY4 109 days, 2 new lungs later, Essex Deputy Sheriff Murphy comes home

    Dozens of friends and family members lined up on Balcomb Street Tuesday evening to greet Newton Murphy as he arrived home from his double lung transplant. Murphy, the Essex County deputy sheriff, had been in the hospital for 109 days after his surge

    August 20, 2014 8 Photos

  • Sex offender Matthew Delima, who fled with teen, gets 2-10 years

    SALEM -- A judge Tuesday returned a homeless Level 3 sex offender to state prison for two to 10 years, but he said that after reading police reports and other records in the case, he would have imposed even more time. The reason Judge Timothy Feeley

    August 20, 2014 3 Stories