WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven said recommendations on rail safety from federal regulators were "common sense" safeguards for the energy industry.
Hoeven, a Republican, said he was told by National Transportation Safety Board Administrator Deborah Hersman of the recommendations.
The NTSB, he said, recommended that rail companies take note of flammability risks for their rail cars, plan ahead to ensure safety and have the necessary mitigation plans in place for potential accidents.
"These are common sense recommendations that can reduce the risk and damage associated with rail accidents, and they should be followed," he said in a statement.
The NTSB said about 950 barrels of oil spilled when two trains operated by BNSF Railway collided and derailed near Casselton, N.D., in late December.
North Dakota's crude oil production is adding to the overall increase in North America.
Industry officials say the rate of production increase is straining existing pipeline capacity, forcing many energy companies to use rail as an alternative transit method.
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a safety alert in early January saying the type of crude oil in the Bakken reserve area in North Dakota may be more flammable than other grades.
Some rail cars used to transport oil products, so-called DOT-111 cars, are seen by regulators as potentially vulnerable to spills.