Federal Report: 400K Gallons of Oil Released in North Dakota Train Derailment

Scorched oil tankers remain on July 10, 2013 at the train derailment site in Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Edward Bukhardt, CEO of Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railways Inc.,(MMA) told reporters Wednesday that the train was left running while the engineer spent the night sleeping in a hotel in Nantes, adding that the engineer was following standard 'industry practice.' The train carrying crude oil from North Dakota derailed in the town of Lac-Megantic overnight Friday, causing a massive fire and explosions that killedat least 15 people, with another 45 still missing.
National Journal
Ben Geman
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Ben Geman
Jan. 13, 2014, 8:20 a.m.

Rail cars car­ry­ing crude oil that de­railed and ex­ploded in North Dakota on Dec. 30 re­leased over 400,000 gal­lons of oil after 18 tanker cars were punc­tured, ac­cord­ing to a pre­lim­in­ary Na­tion­al Trans­port­a­tion Safety Board re­port re­leased Monday.

The de­rail­ment, near Cas­selton, N.D., and oth­er re­cent oil-by-rail ac­ci­dents have in­creased polit­ic­al pres­sure on the Trans­port­a­tion De­part­ment to toughen safety reg­u­la­tions for tank cars that carry haz­ard­ous ma­ter­i­als.

The pre­lim­in­ary NTSB re­port es­tim­ates that the Dec. 30 ac­ci­dent caused $6.1 mil­lion in dam­ages. Roughly 1,400 people in the area were tem­por­ar­ily evac­u­ated after the de­rail­ment and no in­jur­ies were re­por­ted. Most of the es­tim­ated 400,000 gal­lons of oil re­leased ig­nited.

The ac­ci­dent oc­curred after a train haul­ing grain de­railed, which caused the sub­sequent col­li­sion that de­railed the crude oil train that was head­ing in the op­pos­ite dir­ec­tion.

Both trains were trav­el­ling be­low the max­im­um al­low­able speed when the de­rail­ments oc­curred, ac­cord­ing to the NTSB.

The train cars haul­ing crude oil were an older mod­el known as DOT-111. Law­makers from both parties are press­ing the Trans­port­a­tion De­part­ment to is­sue rules that would lead to the ret­ro­fit or phase out of the tankers.

“The NTSB re­port shows that 18 of the 20 de­railed tank cars were punc­tured. We need to un­der­stand why these tanks are breach­ing, and the [Trans­port­a­tion De­part­ment’s] Pipeline and Haz­ard­ous Ma­ter­i­als Safety Ad­min­is­tra­tion needs to ex­ped­ite its work to re­lease pro­posed up­dated stand­ards for rail tanker cars,” said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., in a state­ment Monday.

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