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Rail News: Safety

Gov. Dayton to survey 300 Minnesota communities on crude-by-rail impacts


Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is sending a survey to 300 communities located along rail lines to help determine how increased rail traffic and crude-oil shipments are impacting local budgets and residents' quality of life.
After hosting railway safety meetings across the state in summer, the governor is trying to dig a bit deeper into rail issues via community-by-community analysis, according to a press release issued by Dayton's office. The survey asks community leaders how increased freight-rail traffic is impacting their municipality, including the biggest challenges they face and the costs incurred to address increased rail traffic.

The governor plans to use survey input to help form the state’s ongoing response to rail safety issues and to develop recommendations to the legislature on ways to address local costs, concerns and infrastructure needs.
"In my meetings with local leaders across the state this summer, it became clear that increased traffic on our railways is having real and costly impacts on Minnesota communities," said Dayton. "This survey will help identify those challenges, and provide a roadmap for the state to address these problems in the 2015 Legislative Session."
The governor also recently sent a letter to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration urging the agency to adopt stronger rail safety standards nationwide. The governor's letter details the increasing volume of crude shipments through the state and the potential dangers to Minnesota residents.
"Minnesota will continue to be the epicenter of Bakken oil movement for the foreseeable future as the amount of oil coming out of the Bakken region increases on a nearly daily basis," wrote Dayton. "These train movements have a significant impact on almost 3.5 million of the state’s 5 million citizens who reside in communities on Bakken oil and ethanol 'high-hazard flammable train' routes."
In addition, Dayton wrote to North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple urging his state to make crude shipments safer before they enter Minnesota. The North Dakota Industrial Commission should "quickly establish oil conditioning standards that will decrease the volatility of Bakken oil being exported from North Dakota," Dayton wrote.
"Last spring, I signed into law comprehensive prevention and emergency response improvements. However, only the state of North Dakota has direct control over the safety of the products being shipped into our state," he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/26/2014