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Empty crude oil cars derail in North Dakota-operator
December 2, 2013 / 8:51 PM / in 4 years

Empty crude oil cars derail in North Dakota-operator

NEW YORK, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Several empty crude oil train cars derailed in North Dakota on Sunday, rail company BNSF Railway said on Monday, the latest in a string of ‘crude-by-rail’ accidents that have prompted calls for stricter safety regulations in North America.

Nine cars of the train, traveling westwards, derailed near a town called Selz in central North Dakota after a truck crashed into it, BNSF said, adding that no injuries were reported.

Transporting crude oil by train has become increasingly popular especially from North Dakota’s Bakken shale oil formation, where the unexpected surge in production in recent years has outpaced any expansion of the pipeline network.

But as ferrying crude by rail jumped to around 770,000 barrels per day (bpd) now from just 23,000 bpd in 2009, so has the potential for accidents.

The most serious rail disaster hit the small Canadian town of Lac-Megantic, in Quebec, where 47 people died after a runaway train that was supposed to be stationary on an incline derailed and crashed, causing several tank cars to explode.

Last month several oil tank cars burst into flames after a derailment in Alabama, creating an oil spill, although no one was injured.

Such incidents have prompted calls for better testing of potentially explosive ultra-light shale crude and improved rail tank car standards.

The Association of American Railroads has urged regulators to improve safety standards for tank cars carrying flammable liquids, including phasing out some old cars.

BNSF is owned by billionaire Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway. (Reporting by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Alden Bentley)

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