Firefighters, Lawmakers, and Emergency Managers:
As most are by now aware; the Bakken oil producers in North Dakota are perfectly capable of removing the highly explosive natural gas liquids, like propane, butane, and ethane, from the Bakken crude, before shipping by rail.
It’s a process known as “stabilization” (aka degasifying, removing “light ends” or stripping the NGL’s) and it’s been common practice in the oil industry for generations.
But, the oil exec’s don’t want to do it, because it would cost them money. That’s their problem.
So; instead of “flammable” Bakken crude running through American and Canadian communities, which is bad enough, the tanker cars are “explosive,” and a mortal danger to every person who lives, works, or frequents places within a mile of the tracks.
2. Alert your attorney’s to prepare for court; either preemptively, or after the next Bakken oil train derails, explodes, and kills more people.
When the first barrels of the Bakken crude oil, plus “natural gas liquids” (NGL’s) were poured into a flimsy DOT-111 railroad tanker car in 2008; did the Bakken producers and North Dakota regulators have reason to believe the mixture would violently explode if a tanker was breached in a derailment?
Unless they were totally incompetent…yes.
Was the sky high explosion of a handful of tanker cars full of Bakken crude/NGL’s outside of Luther, OK, in August of 2008, foreseeable?
Did Bakken producers and North Dakota regulators show any regard for future explosions after this obvious clue? Evidently not.
Lac-Megantic, and 47 of its citizens, went up in smoke on July 6, 2013. Was the disaster foreseeable? Of course.
Were the red flags bright enough after Lac-Megantic? Guess not. Nobody did anything prevent the massive explosions to follow.
300 hundred fireballs were reported outside of Aliceville, AL, in early November of 2013. Darned foreseeable.
Any sense of urgency to protect American citizens, yet? Nope. Pungent disregard.
Casselton. Big oil and ND politicians rally to put all of the onus on the railroads. Is anything done to render the Bakken oil trains nonexplosive? Nope.
Then; in April of 2014, a derailment occurs in downtown Lynchburg. If not for a quirk of physics, which turned the tankers towards the river, the 100 foot fireballs would have taken out a chunk the city, and humans.
Can we remove the NGL’s from the concoction, now? Don’t be silly. ND Regulators needed to see some “science,” because the towering explosions didn’t provide enough proof.
On September 23, 2014, the North Dakota Industrial Commission holds a hearing. “They (oil exec’s) testified that the oil was already safe, that train accidents were few and far between, and that regulations would cost the industry a lot of money.”–Prairie Public
It’s always been possible to render the Bakken oil trains nonexplosive, but corporations decided not to remove all of the explosive natural gas liquids, and North Dakota regulators chose not make the “stabilization” process mandatory.
The next calamity, which may, or may not, take human lives is foreseeable, and the disregard is deafening.
Reckless and criminal.
“RECKLESS ENDANGERMENT is a crime consisting of acts that create a substantial risk of serious physical injury to another person. The accused person isn’t required to intend the resulting or potential harm, but must have acted in a way that showed a disregard for the foreseeable consequences of the actions.”–USLegal.com
“Corporations are people, my friend,”–Mitt Romney
Fargo, North Dakota
“The state’s (North Dakota) three-person Industrial Commission seems likely to adopt a set of industry-designed best practices. Simply put, North Dakotan crude will have to be lightly pressure-cooked to boil off a fraction of the volatile “light ends” before shipment.”
This conditioning lowers the ignition temperature of crude oil—but not by much. It leaves in solution most of the culprit gases, including butane and propane. Even the industry itself says conditioning would not make Bakken crude meaningfully safer for transportation, though it would make the state’s crude more consistent from one well to another.
The only solution for safety is stabilization, which evaporates and re-liquefies nearly all of the petroleum gases for separate delivery to refiners. Stabilization is voluntarily and uniformly practiced in the Eagle Fork formation in Texas, whose untreated crude is even more volatile than that fracked from the Bakken Formation straddling Montana, North Dakota, and Canada’s Saskatchewan Province.”–Railway Age