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U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) last week called on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to take action toward making Bakken crude oil less volatile before it's allowed to be shipped by rail.A member of the Senate Energy Committee, Franken wrote to the FRA asking the agency to address the safety of Bakken crude oil after hearing from concerned constituents about the safety of trains traveling from North Dakota through Minnesota, "as the trains carrying this crude oil have shown a propensity to explode in the case of a derailment."Franken said he was encouraged by recent FRA official statements calling for an "all-of-the-above" approach to addressing crude-by-rail safety, including the need to make the oil itself safer."I urge you to take whatever actions necessary to address the safety of the product itself, as your comments called for, and require that this crude oil be made less volatile before it is shipped through my state and across the country," the letter states.The senator also said he supported proposed routing requirements for high-hazard flammable trains (HHFTs)."Whenever at all feasible, these HHFTs should not be allowed to travel through population centers," Franken wrote. "We also need to do more to address rail integrity issues to prevent derailments in the first place, and to give the communities the resources that they need to respond to an accident with this dangerous fuel."
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