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Rail News: BNSF Railway

BNSF crude train derails in N.D.; senators call on Foxx to issue emergency order


Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) are on the scene today of a BNSF Railway Co. crude-oil train that derailed and caught fire yesterday morning in Heimdal, N.D.

The BNSF train consisted of 109 total cars, 107 of which were loaded with crude oil. Two buffer cars were loaded with sand. Six of the crude oil cars derailed at about 7:30 a.m., resulting in a fire and the town's evacuation. All other cars were pulled away from the scene to a safe distance. No injuries were reported, according to a statement issued by BNSF.

The tank cars involved in the incident were the unjacketed CPC-1232 models, which are among the tank-car models slated for retrofits or phasing out under new federal rules governing the safety of crude-by-rail transportation.

The FRA deployed a 10-person investigation team to the site. FRA Acting Administrator Sarah Feinberg said the incident "is yet another reminder of why we issued a significant, comprehensive rule aimed at improving the safe transport of high hazard flammable liquids."
"The FRA will continue to look at all options available to us to improve safety and mitigate risks," Feinberg said in a prepared statement.

Meanwhile, eight U.S. senators yesterday sent a letter urging U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to immediately enact stronger disclosure requirements regarding shipments of Bakken crude oil. The U.S. Department of Transportation announced new regulations last week that included requiring railroads to share information on the shipment of crude oil with emergency responders.

"We call upon you to issue an emergency order that improves the process for providing detailed information on crude-by-rail movements and volumes to first responders, shifts the onus for information sharing onto the railroads and not communities, and allows for the continued public availability of broader crude-by-rail data on movements and routes,” the senators wrote.

"The final rule constitutes a setback on disclosure requirements that could hamper our first responders and negatively impact the safety of our communities. We urge you to promptly address these shortfalls, and look forward to your response,” the senators continued.

The letter was signed by U.S. Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Robert P. Casey, Jr. (D-Pa.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).