Tag Archives: Roosevelt County MT

Most Recent Oil Train Accidents and Spills Involved ‘Safer’ CPC-1232 Tank Cars

Repost from DeSmogBlog

Most Recent Oil Train Accidents and Spills Involved ‘Safer’ CPC-1232 Tank Cars

By Justin Mikulka  | July 23, 2015 – 03:58

Roosevelt County chief deputy sheriff Corey Reum was one of the first responders to the recent Bakken oil train derailment in Montana, a few miles from the North Dakota border.

“We’re lucky it didn’t ignite,” Reum told ABC News.

That is just one of the things first responders have learned since the deadly accident two years ago in Lac-Megantic. As a Globe and Mail article marking that two year anniversary recently noted, when the train was on fire and rail cars were exploding in Lac-Megantic, no one could figure out why.

The Globe detailed the questions the investigators were trying to answer in the aftermath.

And, perhaps most puzzling of all: How did the crude oil on the train – normally thought of as difficult to light on fire – cause the kind of violent explosions it did?

Now we know that the Bakken oil is different from most other crude, and based on the eight accidents since July 2013 involving derailed trains that involved Bakken oil and resulted in fires, first responders now know the risk the Bakken oil presents.

In Roosevelt County they evacuated a half-mile perimeter around the crash site as a precaution even though there was no fire.

However, despite the lack of fire in this latest accident, 35,000 gallons of oil did spill as four tank cars ruptured. And these were the newer CPC-1232 tank cars that the oil industry is currently suing to keep on the rails even longer than the new regulations allow — which for some 1232 tank cars is not until 2025.

Click to enlarge

There have now been six accidents involving oil trains in 2015 where tank cars derailed and were punctured and oil was spilled. In the first five, there were also fires and explosions.

All six oil train derailments involved the new 1232 model cars that the American Petroleum Institute is suing to keep on the tracks longer than existing long timelines in the new oil-by-rail regulations.

Even Cynthia Quarterman, the former administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the agency responsible for the regulations, was surprised by the timelines in the final regulations.

That was the biggest surprise, by far,” Quarterman told Argus Media. “The push-back for five years for most things, I thought it was a substantial push-back in terms of dates.”

So while we have learned quite a bit in the two years since Lac-Megantic, not much has changed in how Bakken oil is moved by rail.

  • The oil industry has not addressed the volatile nature of the Bakken oil so it still presents serious fire and explosion risks.
  • The oil and rail industries are fighting the new regulation requirements for modern braking systems on the trains starting in 2021.
  • The oil will still be transported in the obviously inadequate CPC-1232 cars for up to ten years or longer if the oil industry wins its lawsuit.

So, as Sheriff Reum pointed out in his observation, the best strategy for communities along the oil train tracks across North America is to spend the next ten years or so hoping you get lucky.


Image credit: NTSB Safety Recommendation report.

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    Montana county has had 5 derailments in two years

    Repost from The Dickinson Press

    Montana county has had 5 derailments in two years

    By Amy Dalrymple on Jul 20, 2015 at 11:22 p.m.
    An investigator takes photos at the site of a crude oil train derailment on Saturday, July 18 east of Culbertson, Mont. Twenty-two oil tankers derailed, leaking an estimated 35,000 gallons of oil. (FNS Photo by Amy Dalrymple)

    CULBERTSON, Mont. — Five train derailments have occurred in less than two years in the northeastern Montana County where crews continue cleaning up after last week’s oil train derailment.

    In addition to the two train derailments that occurred last week within a 20-mile stretch of Roosevelt County, two railcars also derailed at Culbertson in February, according to the Federal Railroad Administration database, which is updated through April.

    The cause of that incident, which did not cause injuries or release of hazardous material, was attributed to human error, according to information submitted to the FRA.

    The area also had two train derailments in 2014, including the derailment of two Amtrak cars in April of that year in the neighboring community of Bainville.

    Two people were hurt in the derailment, which caused more than $100,000 in damage to Amtrak equipment and nearly $500,000 in damage to the track, the FRA database shows.

    The cause that derailment is listed as “track roadbed settled or soft,” according to information submitted to the FRA.

    The other 2014 incident, which involved one railcar that derailed in December at Culbertson, was attributed to a broken wheel, the FRA database shows.

    The entire state of Montana had 19 train derailments in 2014, the FRA information shows.

    Last Tuesday, nine railcars derailed near Blair, Mont., damaging about 1 mile of track. The cause remains under investigation.

    BNSF Railway inspects the track in that area at least four times per week, spokesman Matt Jones said.

    The FRA and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration continued collecting evidence Monday to investigate the cause of Thursday’s derailment involving 22 oil tankers. Four of the derailed tank cars leaked oil, the FRA said, and spilled an estimated 35,000 gallons of oil.

    The train was not speeding at the time it derailed, an FRA spokesman said. It was traveling 44 miles per hour in a 45-mph zone, the spokesman said.

    BNSF environmental specialists continue to clean up at the site. Oil will be removed from the remaining tank cars in the next several days, and the cars will be removed after that, Jones said.

    Crews are excavating contaminated soil, said Daniel Kenney, enforcement specialist with the Montana Department of Environmental Quality, which is monitoring the cleanup. The spill was not reported to have contaminated any water sources and has not threatened human health, Kenney said.

    The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources confirmed Monday that Statoil, the company that owns the oil that was on the train, is in compliance with the state’s oil conditioning order.

    The order, which took effect in April, aims to reduce the volatility of Bakken crude oil.

    Statoil was meeting the order by operating its equipment at specific temperatures and pressures, said Department of Mineral Resources spokeswoman Alison Ritter. Companies also can comply by submitting vapor pressure tests to the state.

    The train with was loaded by Savage Services in Trenton, N.D., and headed to Anacortes, Wash., the FRA said.

    Jeff Hymas, a spokesman for Savage Services, said Monday the railcar inspection protocols at the Trenton terminal are consistent with FRA and BNSF requirements.

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