Lightning hits 3rd North Dakota saltwater facility

ALEXANDER, N.D. (AP) — A lightning strike sparked a fire and explosion that destroyed the third North Dakota saltwater disposal facility in recent weeks, sending thick black smoke billowing into the sky and leaving the smell of oil in the air.


Salerno: Offshore safety culture improving, but challenges remain

As the Gulf of Mexico sees increased offshore oil and gas activity four years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Interior Department’s top offshore safety regulator says drilling safety culture is improving.

However, there are still challenges to be overcome as the industry and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement move ahead with new regulatory systems, agency director Brian Salerno said Sunday.


Missing equipment plays role in Bakken Shale oil volatility

The Wall Street Journal

The Wall Street Journal reports that the lack of stabilization equipment in North Dakota Bakken Shale facilities means the crude oil produced there is more prone to explosion, a serious problem facing federal regulators as they look to make crude-by-rail transport safer.


Lac-Megantic braces for return of crude-by-rail, one year after crash

The Wall Street Journal

One year after a deadly oil train derailment and explosion killed 47 in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, residents are anticipating that crude-by-rail will return to the town as other shipping fails to produce enough business, The Wall Street Journal reports.


Islamic militants seize Syria oil field

BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic militants seized an eastern Syrian oil field near Iraq and inched closer to the Turkish border on Friday as they try to consolidate their control of an area along the length of the Euphrates river stretching through Syria and Iraq.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that fighters from the Islamic State group seized the al-Tanak oil field early Friday. Another group, the activist collective of Deir el-Zour, also reported the seizure.

The field is in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour, near Iraq, and it followed the Islamic State group's seizure of Syria's largest oil field on Thursday. Both oil fields were taken from other rebel groups.


Quebec town still recovering from train disaster

LAC-MEGANTIC, Quebec (AP) — Backhoes and bulldozers are still digging out oil-seeped soil and pavement in the center of this lakeside Quebec town. Where the post office, public library and restaurants once stood, there is only the clanging of machinery kicking up dust over the emptiness.

It is the daily soundtrack of a town fighting to rise up from one of the worst railway disasters in North American history.

A year has passed since a runaway oil train slid quietly down a hill in the middle of the night and derailed in a series of explosions that obliterated a large swath of downtown Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people. Paved roads and new buildings remain a long way off in the fenced-off disaster zone. The damage to the surrounding river system hasn't been fully made public, and the environmental cleanup alone will cost at least $200 million.


Oil train dangers extend past Bakken: Safety officials

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. safety officials say the dangers posed by a sharp spike in oil shipments by rail in North America extend beyond shipments from the booming Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana, and include oil from elsewhere in the U.S. and Canada.

Acting National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Chris Hart says all crude shipments are flammable and can damage the environment — not just the Bakken shipments involved in a series of fiery accidents.

He cited recent accidents in Mississippi, Minnesota, New Brunswick and Pennsylvania that involved oil shipments from Canada, and said they exemplify "the risks to communities and for the environment for accidents involving non-Bakken crude oil."


North Dakota discloses oil train shipment details

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Dozens of mile-long trains loaded with crude are leaving western North Dakota each week, with most shipments going through the state's most populous county while en route to refineries across the country.

The U.S. Department of Transportation ordered railroads last month to give state officials specifics on oil train routes and volumes so emergency responders can better prepare for accidents. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said a pattern of fiery accidents involving trains carrying crude from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana had created an "imminent hazard" to public safety.


Washington state getting up to 19 BNSF oil trains per week


Washington has posted on its Emergency Management Division website information on oil trains transiting the state, reporting that BNSF alone sends up to 19 shipments a week carrying at least 1 million gallons of crude, according to Platts.

Montana says oil-train details not confidential

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials said Wednesday they intend to release details next week on the frequency of oil trains passing through the state, despite efforts by railroads to keep the information from the public after a string of fiery accidents raised safety concerns.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx last month ordered railroads to provide specifics on oil-train routes, crude volumes and other information to state emergency officials. The order was meant to guard against further accidents.


Subscribe to Safety