Although commentary on the danger of
oil field accidents in the Bakken tends to focus on the perils to workers of drilling and
extracting the oil from the ground, the transportation risks to both workers
and communities involved are also significant.
Hauling oil in a truck, for example, poses hazards both from the oil and
the congestion and overuse of roads that were not planned for heavy traffic.
Pipelines can rupture and spill gallons into the environment. Finally,
transporting oil via railroads has come under scrutiny and made one online
observer focused on the rail industry call Bakken oil a “dangerous friend”
to train companies.
Why? Derailments and other rail accidents can cause oil not just to spill,
but to ignite. Bakken oil is a light crude, which makes it more volatile
than other crudes—and thus more likely to catch fire. In the 2013-2014
period, several major accidents occurred, including one near Casselton,
North Dakota. Partly as a result, the U.S. Department of Transportation
announced stricter rules on the transport of oil by rail. The new rules,
reported in the May 1, 2015
Houston Chronicle,included lower speeds and expanded types of cars intended to increase railroad safety.
However, just a week after the announcement, a 109-car train derailed in
North Dakota, causing at least 10 cars to burst into flame and forcing
the evacuation of an entire town. According to
news reports on the accident, it was the fifth derailment in 2015 and one of nearly
25 such accidents since 2006.
If you want to talk about unsafe conditions or accidents in the Bakken
contact us. We will fight vigilantly to see that your rights are protected.