North Dakota Bakken Crude May Be More Explosive Than Expected, Officials Say

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Crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken field may be more flammable and explosive than previously thought, officials now say after a series of fiery railroad accidents.

The crude may contain more flammable gasses, be highly corrosive, or more sulfurous than crude from other oil fields, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). The agency is warning Bakken oil producers to “sufficiently degasify” the crude oil before loading it into rail cars.

Last week, several tank cars carrying Bakken crude exploded after a collision on a remote stretch of track in North Dakota, and last July a runaway train carrying the crude derailed and exploded in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, killing 47 people.

U.S. railroads have asked manufacturers for safety upgrades to tank cars that carry Bakken crude, which could cost the industry roughly $3 billion, Reuters estimates. Trains carried nearly 700,000 barrels of Bakken crude each day in October, a 67 percent increase over the previous year.

Article appearing courtesy Yale Environment 360.

About Author

Yale Environment 360 is an online magazine offering opinion, analysis, reporting and debate on global environmental issues. We feature original articles by scientists, journalists, environmentalists, academics, policy makers, and business people, as well as multimedia content and a daily digest of major environmental news. Yale Environment 360 is published by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and Yale University. We are funded in part by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. The opinions and views expressed in Yale Environment 360 are those of the authors and not of the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies or of Yale University.

2 Comments

  1. ND continues to be a WORST government in the American State Litter Scorecard.

    Its legislature is not in session this year, so unless there’s federal intervention, dont expect any kind of major cleanups or changes til at least 2015.

  2. ND continues is a WORST government in the American State Litter Scorecard.

    Its legislature is not in session this year; dont expect any kind of major cleanups or changes til at least 2015.

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