Proposed Bakken Pipeline Prompts Resurgence Of Concerns About Safety Of Transporting Highly Explosive Crude Oil

Despite immediate concerns raised when it was first announced in 2014, Dakota Access has moved forward with its plans for an 1,100 mile pipeline that would transport 570,000 barrels of crude oil a day, from the Bakken Oil Fields across North and South Dakota, Iowa, and Illinois, before connecting with the existing Energy Transfer Oil Pipeline.

Crude oil produced in the Bakken region has come under increasing scrutiny in the last few years, as the number of collisions, derailments, and explosions involving trains carrying the highly flammable light crude oil has skyrocketed. Though some analysts have speculated that these accidents are the result of a giant surge in oil production – a 5,000% increase from 2008 to 2014 – and its transportation by way of arail infrastructure woefully ill-equipped to handle the increased volume, others have pointed to the volatile nature of the oil itself.

After a train carrying more than 2 million gallons of Bakken crude derailed in July 2013, nearly destroying Lac-Magentic, Quebec, and claiming the lives of 47 of its residents, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) began an investigation into the Bakken Shale Formation. The conclusion was an alarming confirmation of the potential dangers of Bakken crude, including:

a higher gas content, higher vapor pressure, lower flash point and boiling point and thus a higher degree of volatility than most other crudes in the U.S., which correlates to increased ignitability and flammability (USDOT).

Dakota Access has optimistically said that one of the many benefits of the Bakken pipeline project is the creation of an estimated 8,000 construction jobs. The growing concerns over the dangerous realities of transporting Bakken crude have overshadowed would-be enthusiasm for potential employment opportunities, though, and left many wondering if a pipeline will simply relocate these disasters, off the tracks and under ground.

If you’re concerned about the safety of working on the Bakken pipeline, or in any oil field in the Bakken region, contact us.