The crude oil train accident that occurred in Casselton, N.D., Monday prompted officials to warn the public, emergency responders and shippers about the flammability of Bakken Shale oil. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) noted in a statement yesterday that Bakken crude has a low boiling point — sometimes below 75 degrees Fahrenheit — and it may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude.
Twenty-one rail cars were burned in the Casselton accident, and the town’s residents were asked to evacuate on Tuesday due to potential health hazards from smoke. Crude oil delivery by train has come under scrutiny over the past several months amid a series of similar accidents. A crude oil train derailed in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, last July, resulting in fires and explosions and killing at least 42 people.
Photo: Harvey Henkelmann