The recent train derailment in West Virginia that resulted in a fiery blaze and the evacuation of two cities has some North Dakota groups accusing state leaders of failing to act quickly on oil conditioning standards.
According to a report by The Bismarck Tribune, the recent derailment and explosion is the sixth incident involving Bakken crude oil since 2008. On Tuesday the Dakota Resource Council released a statement blaming state officials for refusing to enforce oil conditioning standards prior to shipment. Officials investigating the derailment in West Virginia have yet to determine what caused the accident.
In the statement the organization said, “Responsibility for this explosion is squarely at the feet of North Dakota officials from Gov. Jack Dalrymple on down for their inept handling of regulating oil extraction in North Dakota. [Dalrymple’s] administration is putting people’s lives and property at risk here and across the continent.”
The Tribune reports that Dalrymple’s spokesman Jeff Zent said the Council’s statement suggests that the groups is uninformed or decided to not acknowledge the progress made by the state. He referred to the Industrial Commission’s order which includes strict guidelines for the temperatures and pressures in which Bakken oil is transported. He added, “Most producers have already installed the equipment necessary to meet the final [conditioning] deadline of April 1.”
Some critics, however, are arguing that the commision’s recommendation of limiting tank car pressure to 13.7 pounds per square inch (psi) is not enough given that the majority of the oil produced in the Bakken is already shipped below that threshold. The Bakken crude that was carried on the train that derailed in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, which killed 47 people in 2013, was shipping the product at 9.3 psi vapor pressure according to the Canadian transportation board.
West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin declared a state of emergency for Kanawha and Fayette counties. The released oil contaminated the Kanawha River, prompting water company officials in Cedar Grove and Montgomery to shut down their water intakes. One house was destroyed after a tank car crashed into it and later burst into flames. There were no deaths or injuries other than one person being treated for potential inhalation of toxic fumes.