Tag Archives: North Dakota Industrial Commission

Oil in North Dakota derailment was “Conditioned” but not “Stabilized”

Repost rom ABC News
[Editor:  Note that the oil was CONDITIONED according to North Dakota regulations, but it was not STABILIZED which is a stricter standard currently used elsewhere.  (See The difference between oil “conditioning” and oil “stabilization”.)  The vapor pressure of oil on this train was measured at 10.8 psi. Compare this with DeSmogBlog: “…regular crude oil has a Reid Vapor Pressure (RVP) of 5-7 psi and Bakken crude has an RVP between 8-16 psi. To put that in perspective, gasoline typically has a RVP of 9 psi.”  Note also: “The North Dakota train was traveling 24 miles an hour…much slower than the 50 mph limit imposed by federal regulators.”  – RS]

Oil in North Dakota Derailment Was Treated to Cut Volatility

By Matthew Brown and Blake Nicholson, Associated Press, May 7, 2015, 7:09 PM ET

BISMARCK, N.D. — A shipment of oil involved in an explosive train derailment in North Dakota had been treated to reduce its volatility — a move that state officials suggested could have reduced the severity of the accident but won’t prevent others from occurring.

Hess Corporation spokesman John Roper said the oil complied with a state order requiring propane, butane and other volatile gases to be stripped out of crude before it’s transported. That conditioning process lowers the vapor pressure of the oil, reducing the chances of an explosive ignition during a crash.

Despite the treatment of the crude in Wednesday’s accident, six cars carrying a combined 180,000 gallons of oil caught fire in the derailment 2 miles from the town of small Heimdal in central North Dakota. The town was evacuated but no one was hurt.

Investigators on Thursday recovered wheel fragments from the scene. Those will be sent to a government laboratory for analysis, said National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Keith Holloway. A defective tank car wheel is suspected to have played a role in another oil train accident, in Galena, Illinois, on March 10.

The North Dakota train was traveling 24 miles an hour, Holloway said, much slower than the 50 mph limit imposed by federal regulators.

The state volatility standard went into effect last month. It came in response to a string of fiery oil train accidents, including a 2013 derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec that killed 47 people and a derailment and fire near Casselton, North Dakota last year.

Members of Congress have called for a stricter, national volatility standard for crude moved by rail.

Roper said the Hess shipment was “fully in compliant with North Dakota’s crude conditioning order.” It was tested immediately prior to loading onto a BNSF Railway train in Tioga and had a vapor pressure of 10.8 pounds per square inch — compared to the 13.7 pounds per square inch maximum under the state standard.

Reducing the explosiveness of crude moved by rail was not supposed to be a cure-all. Federal regulators last week announced a new rule that calls for stronger tank cars better able to withstand a derailment and more advanced braking systems to help keep fuel-carrying cars on the tracks.

“Our oil conditioning order in no way will prevent an accident,” said Alison Ritter with the North Dakota Industrial Commission, which set the vapor pressure standard. “Oil is still going to burn. That’s why the oil was produced. But it’s not as explosive.”

The first witness on the scene Wednesday, 68-year-old Heimdal resident Curt Benson, said he heard and felt an explosion in his house and then witnessed three or four more explosions when he got to the scene. He said it was nowhere near the magnitude of the Casselton explosions, which he saw on television footage.

“I would say that ours was somewhat minor compared to theirs,” Benson said.

Casselton Fire Chief Tim McLean said the disaster outside of that city appeared much worse than the Heimdal incident, but there were other factors to consider than just the volatility of the oil. The Casselton derailment involved more than twice the amount of crude and different kinds of tanker cars, he said. Another freight train, carrying soybeans, also was involved in Casselton and provided more fuel for the fire.

Democrats in Congress contend more needs to be done to reduce the danger of oil shipments by rail that pass through more than 400 counties including major metropolitan areas such as Seattle, Chicago and Philadelphia. Most of that oil comes from the Bakken region of North Dakota, Montana and Canada.

“Why do we let trains with this volatility pass through every day? Why are we letting these guys get away with that?” U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, a Washington state Democrat, said in an interview last week after federal regulators unveiled the braking and tank car rule.

BNSF vice president Mike Trevino did not immediately know how much of the oil in Heimdal burned, how much spilled and how much was left in the cars after the fire was extinguished.

The railway was working to remove the derailed cars and repair the track Thursday. It planned to re-open the line Friday afternoon, Trevino said.

The line runs next to an intermittent waterway known as the Big Slough, which drains into the James River about 15 miles downstream. Oil got into the slough, but it was contained and was being recovered, state Emergency Services spokeswoman Cecily Fong said early Thursday.

The tank cars that burst into flames were a model slated to be phased out or retrofitted by 2020 under a federal rule announced last week. It’s the fifth fiery accident since February involving that type of tank car, and industry critics called for them to be taken off the tracks immediately to prevent further fires.

For residents of Heimdal and surrounding Wells County, which oil trains cross daily, the disaster was the realization of something they always feared might happen, County Commission Chairman Mark Schmitz said.

“It’s definitely been in the back of everybody’s minds,” he said.

———

Brown reported from Billings, Montana.
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    BNSF: if you live in a city of 100,000 or more, you might be just a TINY BIT safer – others, not so lucky

    Repost from WDAZ TV, Grand Forks ND
    [Editor:  By announcing these measures, BNSF is trying to put a happy face on continuing potential for train catastrophes.  These measures won’t help much, and notice they still are expecting an oil industry  “phase-out” of DOT-111 cars rather than an immediate ban.  – RS]

    BNSF trains slow down: Railway announces plans to improve safety measures for oil shipments

    By April Baumgarten / Forum News Service, Mar 29, 2015 at 11:32 a.m.
    WDAZvideo2
    Click to visit WDAZ for 30-second news clip

    Bismarck, ND (Forum News Service) – One of the top rail companies in the U.S. has announced steps to improve rail safety in North Dakota.

    BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose outlined plans recently with Gov. Jack Dalrymple to implement additional measures throughout the company’s national rail system. BNSF also informed its customers on Friday about the safety measures, according to a news release.

    “Railroad operations, equipment and maintenance are critical elements in our overall goal to improve rail safety, and I commend BNSF for taking these significant steps,” Dalrymple wrote in the release. “At the same time, we must move forward on other important aspects of rail safety including the need for new federal tank car standards and greater pipeline capacity.”

    BNSF began a move Wednesday to have all of its oil trains reduce speeds to 35 mph through all municipalities with 100,000 or more residents. The speed reduction is temporarily in place until its customers phase out DOT-111 tanks cars from service, BNSF spokesman Mike Trevino said Saturday. Phasing out of the older cars, which will be replaced by CPC-1232 railcars to meet federal safety standards, is expected to begin in May, and BNSF hopes to complete the process by the end of the year. When that happens, BNSF will reconsider the speeds.

    The shipping companies, not BNSF, own the cars, so the railway company has to wait on its customers to make the transition to the newer cars. The move was a voluntary part of an agreement with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Trevino said.

    “What we want to do is do what we can to improve the safety of our operation,” he said. “What we can do is slow those trains down in larger communities.”

    Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks, said it was good to see BNSF taking proactive action to address railroad and safety weaknesses, though there are other measures he would like to see rail companies consider.

    “I think many of our rural communities would also argue that their lives are no less at risk,” he said.

    The only city in North Dakota that would fall under the reduced-speed measure is Fargo. The state’s largest city had an estimated population of about 113,700 people in 2013, according to the U.S. Census. Bismarck, the second largest city, had 67,000. Grand Forks, which is a collector for train traffic at its switch station, was home to about 55,000 residents.

    “That doesn’t do a whole lot to secure our other communities,” Mock said.

    Slowing the trains down in all communities would reduce the amount of product BNSF could ship and would burn up time, Trevino said. It would also impact trains hauling other commodities, such as grain or anhydrous ammonia. He added the measures go beyond the federal standard.

    “If you slow those trains all around the network, then that (network) becomes as fast as that train,” he said.

    Residents in Grand Forks feel uneasy when they see the “iconic-black, cylindrical tanks,” Mock said. Fortunately, Grand Forks has a train junction for switching lines, and many trains are coming through at a slow speed, meaning risk of a derailment is greater in cities where trains are traveling at higher speeds.

    Still, residents are still curious and ask, “what if.”

    “When a person sees a train rolling through town that has those iconic-black tanks running a mile long, there is a little apprehension,” he said.

    Rep. Andrew Maragos, R-Minot, said he was pleased when progress is made, adding he is comfortable with the governor’s response.

    “If he feels the railroads are taking positive steps, that’s always good,” Maragos said.

    Trevino said BNSF has also increased rail detection testing frequencies 2 ½ times federal standards, which tests the quality of the rail. It has also reduced tolerance for removing a car from a train for a potential defect, meaning the bar is set higher for a car’s quality and safety features.

    For example, if a wheel is defective, it may be removed from the train immediately.

    Previous derailments

    Both North Dakota and rail companies have come under fire after several oil trains have derailed across Northern America, the most infamous being the Lac-Megantic, Quebec, derailment in July 2013. A runaway Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway train carrying Bakken crude went off the tracks and exploded, killing 47 people and destroying the center of the city.

    Closer to home, a BNSF train carrying crude hit a derailed grain train in December 2013 near Casselton, forcing it off the tracks and resulting in a fiery explosion. No injuries or deaths were reported, though a temporary evacuation was put into place. It was the fifth derailment near the city in 10 years, and another BNSF train with lumber and empty crude cars derailed in November.

    Both trains used DOT-111 cars.

    More recently, a CSX Corp. train derailed Feb. 16 near Mount Carbon, W. Va. Two Canadian National Railway Co. trains derailed in Ontario between February and March.

    As a result, both Canada and the U.S. have looked into implementing measures to prevent disasters. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued orders to phase out the DOT-111 cars. While that is not expected to occur until May, Dalrymple urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a recent phone call to issue the new tank standards “as soon as possible,” according to the release. Dalrymple also told Foxx that pipelines offer the safest mode of transporting crude oil to market.

    Action in North Dakota

    North Dakota has also attempted to tame the flames. The state Industrial Commission unanimously approved a requirement for all oil producers to install and utilize oil-conditioning equipment to reduce the volatility of Bakken crude. The order would bring the vapor pressure of every barrel of oil produced in North Dakota under 13.7 pound per square inch before it is shipped. Crude producers must comply starting Wednesday.

    Dalrymple and the Public Service Commission have also proposed a state-run railroad safety program and pipeline integrity program “that would complement federal oversight in North Dakota,” according to the release. The proposal would cost North Dakota $1.4 million for three position to inspect railroad tracks. Another three state employees would inspect pipelines that transport oil and other liquids to market.

    Dalrymple’s release also comes the same week the North Dakota House voted down legislation requiring the state Department of Transportation to report on rail safety issues to a legislative committee. Senate Bill 2293, sponsored by Sen. George B. Sinner, D-Fargo, proposed spending $6 million every two years to carry out committee recommendations, but was criticized by Republicans because was “an unnecessary, duplicative requirement” since DOT already conducts studies, Rep. Dan Ruby, R-Minot, told Forum News Service this week.

    The House voted down the bill 34-55 on Monday. Mock was disappointed with the bill’s failure, stating it was “incredibly shortsighted for the Legislature to fail that measure.”

    “The legislators owe it to the people back home to get these reports on a more timely basis — find out what companies, like BNSF, are doing and make sure we are updated on the progress of railroad safety enhancements.” he said.

    Sinner said the release is likely a response to the press coverage of SB 2293’s failure, and voting the bill down was political. While North Dakota has started to address the issues, Sinner said the state needs to do more.

    He pointed out that all the legislators that voted against the bill were Republican.

    “(The Republicans) have not offered one bill on rail safety this Legislature,” he said. “We need to have a bipartisan effort on this issue. This issue is too important.”

    Maragos, who also supported the bill, said the state is addressing safety issues as they come to light. While it was hard for him to say if what leaders are doing is enough, he feels the state is doing everything it can to prevent accidents.

    “For some people, it is never enough,” he said. “For others, it’s pushing too hard.”

    He added: “When we see that isn’t enough, we’ll just move in to improve or strengthen the policies.”

    Making rail safety a priority

    BNSF plans to invest more than $335 million in track maintenance and capital improvement projects in North Dakota this year, including in Dickinson, Jamestown, Devils Lake and Hillsboro.

    There are many products that are shipped from the state across the continent, Mock said, and other states are looking to North Dakota for assurance that cargo is packaged correctly.

    He pointed to a derailment in Minot, where a Canadian Pacific train carrying anhydrous ammonia derailed on Jan. 18, 2002. The incident released approximately 146,700 gallons of anhydrous, and a poisonous gas cloud hovered over the city, causing the death of at least one person and injuring more than 322 people, according to the National Transportation Safety Board report. The disaster also prompted an evacuation and caused more than $10 million in damages and environmental remediation.

    Mock said had he not been allowed to leave work an hour early due to a slow night, he would have been caught in the fumes.

    “Railroad safety is not just a Bakken crude issue,” he said. “The one state that should be taking railroad safety the most seriously is North Dakota, because our reputation is on the line.”

    Like residents across the state, Mock would like to see more done. Railroad safety is a comprehensive issue that requires realistic standards, he said.

    About 90 percent of North Dakota’s exports go out on rail, Sinner said. If a train carrying cargo from the state has an accident that could have been prevented, North Dakota’s industries will be affected, he added.

    “The economic security of this state relies on the rail industry,” he said.

    Maragos said the railroad companies are doing what they can to improve safety.

    “With the amount of rail traffic and understanding that mechanical things break, even (BNSF), which is moving most of the oil, I think they are very sensitive to it, and I think they’re the best job they can in addressing safety concerns,” he said.

    Trevino concurred, stating BNSF is doing everything it can to keep communities and its employees safe.

    “We understand how to run our railroad,” he said. “We understand better than anyone the kinds of steps that can be taken to prevent loss, to mitigate potential loss, should an event occur, and respond to an event.”

    Though Sinner is not sure to what extent, he said he plans to follow the issue closely and find ways to improve railroad safety.

    “We need to do something with the increase in rail traffic and trains traveling around our state,” he said. “We need to make sure rail safety is a real priority.”

    The Press was unable to contact Dalrymple on Saturday.

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      Northern California Representatives call for no delay in or weakening of new oil-by-rail safety standards

      Repost from The Benicia Herald
      [Editor: In an otherwise excellent report, this story fails to mention that Benicia’s own Representative Mike Thompson and 5 other Northern California legislators joined with Reps. Garamendi and Matsui in signing the letter.  Note as well that the fires in the West Virginia explosion burned for nearly 3 days (not 24 hours per this article).  See also Rep. Garamendi’s Press Release.  A PDF copy of the signed letter is available here.  See also coverage in The Sacramento Bee.  – RS]

      Garamendi calls for no delay in oil-by-rail safety improvements

      By Donna Beth Weilenman, March 4, 2015

      U.S. Rep. John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, is urging the Department of Transportation to issue stronger safety standards for transporting oil by train “without delay.”

      Garamendi, a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, made his call in a letter he authored after working with U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, and circulated among members of the House.

      He said the letter responds to news that the DOT may consider weakening oil train safety regulations and delaying a deadline for companies to comply with certain safety guidelines.

      He said he also has been making his appeal to DOT officials in person as well as in committee hearings and in speaking with reporters, urging the department to adopt stronger safety measures designed to protect communities near rail lines.

      He said several key intercontinental rail lines that reach West Coast ports and refineries lie within his Third District.

      Those rail lines go through Fairfield, Suisun City, Dixon, Davis, Marysville and Sacramento, he said.

      Garamendi is the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

      He pointed to a February accident in West Virginia in which a train carrying crude oil derailed and exploded, and said that was just the latest in a series of more frequently occurring incidents.

      That accident happened in Fayette County, in which Garamendi said 28 tanker rail cars in a CSX train went off the tracks and 20 caught fire, accompanied by explosions and 100-yard-high flames.

      Nearby residents were evacuated, and the fires burned for 24 hours.

      West Virginia’s governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, issued a statement saying the train was carrying Bakken crude from North Dakota to Yorktown, Va. The train had two locomotives and 109 rail cars, according to a CSX statement.

      CSX originally said one car entered the Kanawha River, but later said none had done so.

      The company reported at least one rail car ruptured and caught fire. One home was destroyed, and at least one person was treated for potential inhalation of fumes.

      The rail line said it was using newer-model tank cars, called CPC 1232, which are described as tougher than DOT-111 cars made before 2011. Garamendi confirmed that.

      He also said the train was traveling at 33 mph, well below the 50-mph speed limit for that portion of the track.

      According to a report by the Wall Street Journal and a statement from the North Dakota Industrial Commission, the oil contained volatile gases, and its vapor pressure was 13.9 pounds per square inch. A new limit of 13.7 pounds per square inch is expected to be set by North Dakota in April on oil carried by truck or rail from the Bakken Shale fields, though Brad Leone, a spokesperson from Plains All American Pipeline, the company that shipped the oil, said his company had followed all regulations that govern crude shipping and testing.

      A few days before, another Canadian National Railways train derailed in Ontario.

      “Families living near oil-by-rail shipping lines are rightfully concerned about the safety of the trains that pass through their communities,” Garamendi said.

      “For that reason, I have repeatedly called on the Department of Transportation to use all the tools at their disposal to ensure that these shipments are as safe and secure as possible.”

      He said he also wants the DOT to act quickly.

      “Every day that strong and effective rules are delayed is another day that millions of Americans, including many in my district, are put at greater risk.

      “While the Department has made this a priority, they must move with greater urgency to address this matter.”

      He and Matsui have written Timothy Butters, acting administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, and Sarah Feinberg, acting administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, expressing “our strong concern that despite increased train car derailments and an overall delay in the issuance of oil-train safety regulations, the Department of Transportation may be considering a revision that could delay the deadline for companies to comply with important safety guidelines, including upgrading CPC-1232 tank cars to new standards.”

      Citing the frequency of derailments, they wrote that such measures as stabilizing crude and track maintenance before transport should be added to those standards. “Any weakening of the proposed rule would be ill-advised,” they wrote.

      The two wrote that the West Virginia accident was the third reported in February.

      In addition to that one and the Ontario accident, another train carrying ethanol derailed and caught fire in Iowa.

      “These are in addition to recent derailments in Northern California’s Feather River Canyon, Plumas County, and Antelope region where three train cars derailed earlier this year while en route from Stockton to Roseville,” they wrote.

      The two said the need for safer train cars “has long been documented and is overdue.”

      They said the DOT began updating rules in April 2012. Meanwhile, from 2006 to April 2014, 281 tank cars derailed in the United States and Canada.

      They wrote that 48 people died and nearly 5 million gallons of crude oil and ethanol were released.

      “Serious crude-carrying train incidents are occurring once every seven weeks on average, and a DOT report predicts that trains hauling crude oil or ethanol will derail an average of 10 times a year over the next two decades, causing billions of dollars in damage and possibly costing hundreds of lives,” they wrote.

      In the wake of “this alarming news,” they wrote of their “great concern” that Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration failed to meet its Jan. 15 deadline to release a final rule on crude-by-rail regulations.

      They urged the DOT to maintain the timeline that gives companies two years to retrofit cars and to have provisions in place or additional regulations drafted to require stabilization of crude as well as better track maintenance technology.

      “We understand that more than 3,000 comments to the rule were analyzed and we commend the DOT for its work with industry thus far on information sharing, slower speeds, and reinforced railcars, but the multi-pronged solutions for this important safety issue must be implemented as quickly as possible,” they wrote.

      “We also believe that DOT should issue a rule that requires stripping out the most volatile elements from Bakken crude before it is loaded onto rail cars.

      “This operation may be able to lower the vapor pressure of crude oil, making it less volatile and therefore safer to transport by pipeline or rail tank car,” they wrote.

      In addition, they wrote that greater priority must be placed on track maintenance and improvement.

      “We need safer rail lines that are built for the 21st century, including more advanced technology in maintaining railroad tracks and trains so that faulty axles and tracks do not lead to further derailments,” they wrote.

      Saying 16 million Americans live near oil-by-rail shipping lanes, Garamendi and Matsui wrote that if “dangerous and volatile crude” is to be shipped through municipalities and along sensitive waters and wildlife habitat, “the rail and shipping industries must do more.”

      The two praised the National Transportation Safety Board for investigating the accidents thoroughly.

      But they added that those living near crude-by-rail tracks “should not have to live with the fear that it is only a matter of time.”

      Instead, they wrote, the DOT should work toward “release of a strong and robust safety rule as soon as possible.”

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        Crude Oil on Derailed Train Contained High Level of Gas

        Repost from The Wall Street Journal
        [Editor: This is a MUST READ.  Highly significant findings, with life-and-death implications for all regulators, first responders, rail and oil industry workers and executives, and for every town and country along the rails.  – RS]

        Crude on Derailed Train Contained High Level of Gas

        Cargo would have violated new vapor-pressure cap that goes into effect in April

        By Russell Gold, March 2, 2015 6:54 p.m. ET
        crude_oil_train_derailment_Mt.CarbonWVa
        The scene of a CSX crude-oil train burning after derailment in Mount Carbon, W. Va. Photo: Marcus Constantino/Reuters

        The crude oil aboard the train that derailed and exploded two weeks ago in West Virginia contained so much combustible gas that it would have been barred from rail transport under safety regulations set to go into effect next month.

        Tests performed on the oil before the train left North Dakota showed it contained a high level of volatile gases, according to a lab report reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. The oil’s vapor pressure, a measure of volatility, was 13.9 pounds per square inch, according to the Feb. 10 report by Intertek Group PLC.

        That exceeds the limit of 13.7 psi that North Dakota is set to impose in April on oil moving by truck or rail from the Bakken Shale. Oil producers that don’t treat their crude to remove excess gas face fines and possible civil or criminal penalties, said Alison Ritter, a spokeswoman for the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

        The state introduced new rules on shipping oil in December, after a series of accidents in which trains carrying crude from the Bakken erupted into fireballs after derailing. As the Journal has reported, oil from shale formations contains far more combustible gas than traditional crude oil, which has a vapor pressure of about 6 psi; gasoline has a maximum psi of about 13.5.

        The company that shipped the oil,  Plains All American Pipeline LP, said it follows all regulations governing the shipping and testing of crude. “We believe our sampling and testing procedures and results are in compliance with applicable regulatory requirements,” said Plains spokesman Brad Leone.

        New information about the West Virginia accident is likely to increase regulators’ focus on the makeup of oil being shipped by train. Federal emergency rules adopted last year imposed new safety requirements on railroad operators but not on energy companies.

        “The type of product the train is transporting is also important,” said Sarah Feinberg, the acting head of the Federal Railroad Administration. “The reality is that we know this product is volatile and explosive.”

        Ms. Feinberg has supported requiring the energy industry to strip out more gases from the crude oil before shipping it to make the cargo less dangerous, but such measures aren’t currently included in current or proposed federal rules.

        In the wake of the West Virginia accident, members of Congress have called on the White House to expedite its review of pending safety rules developed by the U.S. Transportation Department. Timothy Butters, the acting administrator of the department’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, said the new regulations were being vetted as quickly as was practical, given what he called their complexity.

        Some critics are calling for lower limits on the vapor pressure of oil moving by rail.

        crude_oil_train_derailment_Mt.CarbonWVa02
        The train that derailed in Mount Carbon, W.Va., in mid-February included 109 tanker cars loaded with about 70,000 barrels of Bakken crude. PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

        The lower the vapor pressure, the less explosive the oil and “the less chance of it blowing up—that should be the common goal here,” said Daniel McCoy, the chief executive of Albany County, N.Y., which has become a transit hub for Bakken crude heading to East Coast refineries.

        The train that exploded in West Virginia included 109 tanker cars loaded with about 70,000 barrels of crude. It traveled from Western North Dakota across Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio before derailing in Mount Carbon, W. Va. Nearly two dozen tanker cars full of crude oil were engulfed in flames, some exploding into enormous fireballs that towered over the small community and burned a house to the ground.

        The cause of the derailment remains under investigation. State and federal officials have said the train was traveling well under speed limits imposed last year on trains carrying crude oil. The train was made up of relatively new tanker cars built to withstand accidents better than older models.

        A couple hours after the derailment, CSX and Plains All American Pipeline turned over paperwork about the crude to first responders and state and federal investigators. The testing document was included; the Journal reviewed it after making an open-records request.

        A spokesman for  CSX Corp. , the railroad that carried the oil at the time of the crash, said it had stepped up its inspections of the track along this route, a procedure that railroads voluntarily agreed to last year.

        Related

        “Documentation provided to CSX indicated that the shipments on the train that derailed were in compliance with regulations necessary for transportation,” said Gary Sease, a CSX spokesman. “We support additional measures to enhance the safety of oil shipments, and continue to work cooperatively with regulators, oil producers, tank car manufacturers and others to achieve ever higher safety performance.”

        A spokesman for BNSF Railway Co., which hauled the crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois, where it was handed off to CSX, declined to comment on the derailment.

        Intertek, the testing company, said it is abreast of the regulatory changes and “working closely with authorities and our clients to assure compliance.”

        The U.S. Transportation Department is testing samples of crude that didn’t spill or burn and says it plans to compare its findings with the North Dakota test.

        The fire burned for three and a half days. “If it is burning hard, you can’t put it out,” said Benny Filiaggi, the deputy chief of the Montgomery Fire Department, who responded to the West Virginia derailment. He said he received training from CSX about oil-train fires in October.

        “We concentrated on evacuating everyone nearby before the first explosion,” Mr. Filiaggi said.

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