North Dakota lawmakers, federal officials discuss safer oil transport

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- Three U.S. lawmakers from North Dakota said they've met with federal officials to discuss safer transportation of oil by rail following a December derailment.

Republican Sen. John Hoeven, Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp and Rep. Kevin Cramer, a Republican, met in Washington with officials from the Federal Railroad Administration, Department of Transportation and the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.


The National Transportation Safety Board said about 950 barrels of oil spilled when two trains operated by BNSF Railway collided and derailed near Casselton, N.D., in late December. Preliminary findings from the NTSB found both trains were traveling within the permissible speed limit.

Heitkamp said in a statement North Dakota leaders would work with federal regulators and industry leaders to figure out the best ways to improve rail safety.

"We were very fortunate no one was hurt as a result of the Casselton derailment but we can't sit on our hands," she said Thursday.

North Dakota officials said specific action would target route safety, speed limits and other guidelines.

Rail companies, for their part, will determine if new safety measures for tanker cars are needed, officials said.


Jack Gerard, chief executive officer at the American Petroleum Institute, said Thursday rail safety is "vitally important" to the industry.

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