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Regulators step up inspections of crude oil shipped by rail from Bakken field

by Paul Monies Modified: January 3, 2014 at 11:00 pm •  Published: January 2, 2014

A tank car can hold about 700 barrels of crude. Unit trains, or rolling pipelines, typically have between 100 and 120 cars of crude. Most of the unit trains go to refiners on the East or West coasts, but some travel to Oklahoma to oil storage terminals in Cushing.

Oklahoma Energy and Environment Secretary Michael Teague said Thursday his office was studying the federal alert.

“Regardless of how you're going to move petroleum products, you need to move it safely,” Teague said. “That's what our communities expect us to watch out for to make sure we're doing it safely. It's something we will continue to look at.”

Monday, a BNSF Railway train carrying grain derailed in southeastern North Dakota and fell onto an adjacent track carrying a BNSF train with 106 cars of Bakken crude. Eighteen of the oil train's cars derailed, and several burned in a major fire. Nobody was hurt in the accident, but nearby residents of Casselton, N.D., were evacuated as a precaution.

In July, 47 people died in Quebec after a train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed down a hill into the small town of Lac-Megantic. The resulting explosions and fires also destroyed many buildings in the center of the Canadian town.


Adam Wilmoth

by Paul Monies
Energy Reporter
Paul Monies is an energy reporter for The Oklahoman. He has worked at newspapers in Texas and Missouri and most recently was a data journalist for USA Today in the Washington D.C. area. Monies also spent nine years as a business reporter and...
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