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Heimdal residents back home; clean-up of the oil car fire begins

Residents of Heimdal have returned to their houses after being evacuated following a fiery oil train crash yesterday morning. Fire crews had mostly extinguished the fire by late last night. As Prairie Public’s Emily Guerin reports, the crude oil on that train was supposedly had been made less volatile through a process known as conditioning.


As of April 1, all crude oil produced from the Bakken oilfield must go through a heating process to remove the most flammable natural gas liquids. But Governor Jack Dalrymple said to prevent fiery crashes, there are more important things to focus on than the volatility of crude oil. Here he is speaking to reporters at the crash site yesterday.

DALRYMPLE: The biggest factors are keeping the trains on the tracks first of all, and trying to, over time, make this equipment as safe as it can possibly be.

He was talking about the construction of oil tanker cars-- something that’s come under scrutiny after a slew of oil train crashes in recent years. Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed retiring the oil train car model involved in yesterday’s crash by 2020.

Still, Dalrymple said making crude oil less volatile can make a difference in preventing explosions when a train derails. In the Heimdale crash, for example, oil trains caught on fire but did not explode.

DALRYMPLE : If we can get to where a tank car tipping over is not catastrophic, that would be very very important.

According to BNSF, between 19 and 31 oil trains pass through Wells County every week. County Commissioner Randi Suckut (sookit) says he’s prefer to see more of that oil moved in pipelines. Still, he’s not too worried about the trains.

SUCKUT: Well, oil is a booming economy for North Dakota and if you can’t move it it does nobody good.

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