Concerns Over Rail Car Fire In Bakken Region

At approximately 7:75 a.m., on May 6, a 109-car train derailed 115 miles northeast of Bismarck, North Dakota. Six tank cars, each carrying 30,000 gallons of Bakken oil, caught fire. The blaze was so intense that, for a time, firefighters could not close enough to effectively fight the fire. Two cars continued to burn into Wednesday evening.

Possible Impact on Air and Water

There was concern over potential water pollution, because the rail line runs near the Big Slough waterway that drains into the James River at Bremen, North Dakota. Much depends on how much other oil burns off in the fire. Following the accident, health officials monitored air quality. Citizens are to avoid breathing smoke from the fire. The cause of the explosion was unknown.

Rail Car Controversy

Since February 2015, five different accidents included the same type of rail car. Ironically, the week before, new federal standards went into effect that require companies to eliminate or retrofit such cars by 2020. However, critics demand that this type of tank car be taken out of service immediately.

New Federal Regulations

As of April 1, 2015, oil companies must remove butane, propane and other gases from oil in the tank cars to reduce explosions and fires. The regulations are to reduce oil volatility to a level similar to that of unleaded gasoline. A federal railroad administrator said that tests performed on the Bakken crude by a Texas company will help ascertain regulation compliance.

Federal Investigators Involved

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Railroad Administration are all investigating this accident.

According to abc news, 24 oil train incidents in the United States and Canada lead to fires, derailments and/or fuel spills since 2006. Although this accident did not cause any injuries at the outset, the long-term impact is unknown.

When an individual suffers injury in a Bakken accident, he or she may seek compensation for various losses, including medical expenses incurred and lost wages. To learn more, please contact us.