Residents of the tiny town of Heimdal, North Dakota and people on surrounding farms were evacuated yesterday after a BNSF train carrying crude oil derailed, causing ten cars to become engulfed in flames.
No injuries were reported. First responders from three nearby towns were called to the scene. Observers reported seeing thick black smoke and hearing explosion that sounded like fireworks.
The investigations begin
"Today's 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 said in a statement.
New rule, no standard
New rules aimed at improving the safe transport of high hazard flammable liquids were, in fact, released last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation, but critics say they don’t go far enough because they don’t set volatility standards – something which would affect the transport of highly volatile Bakken crude oil.
Among a number of explosive derailments that have taken place in North America over the past few years, the worst was in Lac Megantic, Quebec in July of 2013, when a train carrying Bakken oil rolled downhill and exploded, devastating the downtown area and killing at least 42 people (5 remain missing and presumed dead).
The boom in U.S. oil production has added urgency to the issue. Last year, approximately 450,000 tankers of crude moved through North America, compared with 9,500 in 2009.