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Excerpts from recent North Dakota editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: May 14, 2015 at 9:02 am •  Published: May 14, 2015
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BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Bismarck Tribune, Bismarck, May 13, 2015

Oil by rail safety issues still a concern

The recent train derailment near Heimdal of tanker cars from a 109-car, eastbound BNSF Railway train transporting Bakken crude underscores the continued need to address ongoing safety concerns when moving oil by rail.

As a result of the derailment, four of the six cars that left the track, caught fire and burned. The town of Heimdal was evacuated amid concerns that smoke from the fire could create air-quality issues in the area.

While it was extremely fortunate nobody was hurt, images of the wreck and ensuing fire demonstrate things could have turned out much differently. If the derailment had occurred within the town of Heimdal, or any other along the route, the threat to public safety was clearly evident.

The Heimdal accident and others that have previously occurred means more must be done. High volumes of crude oil, produced in the Bakken and moved by rail, is a current reality. Rail shipping has, and will continue to be, the primary means of moving oil to market.

Understandably, rail tanker-car explosions involving Bakken oil are cause for serious concern, particularly for those living on or near rail lines where Bakken crude is moved.

Derailments like the one near Heimdal or Casselton in 2013 occur due to a variety of reasons. Each incident while unique in its own way, often had a troubling end result, tanker cars igniting.

It isn't realistic to believe a single solution exists; it will take an all of the above approach to ensure public safety. Making oil safer to transport involves more than just stabilizing oil before placing it into tanker cars. Improved tank car standards, heightened train equipment and rail inspection efforts also will play a critical role.

Despite meeting new state safety standards that requires oil is conditioned to a vapor pressure of 13.7 per square inch or less by the separation of some of the volatile gases, the cargo carried in the Heimdal incident still proved to be highly flammable.

State and federal officials, oil producers and rail companies need to work together quickly and efficiently moving forward to address obvious safety concerns. Bakken oil production while a benefit to the state can't come at the expense of public safety.

More can, and needs to be done. The oil industry in North Dakota will only be a long-term asset to the state if public safety concerns are properly met.

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Minot Daily News, Minot, May 11, 2015

Making a positive impact

Congratulations to Souris Valley United Way on a record-breaking year.

Last Thursday, representatives from 27 local organizations accepted significant grants from the United Way — money generously donated by locals for locals.

The 2014 campaign was a record year with a 21 percent increase over last year, said Patricia Smith, executive director of Souris Valley United Way.

"With these additional funds, Souris Valley United Way was able to assist five new applicants that provide youth mentors, senior health care and refuge services," Smith said.

United Way was able to make grants totaling $466,989 this year, an accomplishment organizers can be proud of. Each grant directly addresses the areas of education, financial stability and health. Worthy organizations such as the Boy Scouts received grants as well as many less-visible groups whose missions are essential each in their own way. Collectively they make a huge positive impact in Minot and throughout the region.

Smith said the goal is to be able to raise $1 million to give out next year.

We have no doubt that goal will be met and know that steps are already being taken to make sure it is.

One million is a lofty goal, no doubt, but in no way out of reach. The needs may be great but so are the hearts of United Way donors.

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