Updated: 04/30/2014 10:53 PM
Created: 04/30/2014 10:51 PM WDIO.com
By: Tim Sherno, KSTP-TV
A train carrying crude oil jumped its track and burst into flames near Lynchburg, Virginia on Wednesday. The accident is similar to a derailment near Casselton, North Dakota, last December focusing concerns on the transport of oil by rail.
Oil from the Bakken Fields in North Dakota has a lower flash-point and burns hotter than other oil, according to Dave Christianson, Senior Planner of Freight and Rail for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. He says the oil from the Bakken Fields contains more natural gas, "It's much more volatile and dangerous."
The oil passes through the Twin Cities Metro each day. "The train is usually about a mile and a half long, about 110 cars per train, each car is about 60 feet long and carries 100 tons of oil," Christianson says each day as many as 6 trains move through the area, and that number could grow. "By the best of our projections this crude traffic is going to increase in volume, possibly double by this time next year."
Christianson says the rail industry developed new safety standards for tanker cars. "Every car built since then, about 15 to 20,000 cars have been built to that new standard." Christianson says the Federal Government participated in developing those new standards, but didn't official require them. According to Christianson, the Federal Government may require its own standards, if those standards differ from the rail standards, the hope is that tanker cars built to the rail industry's standards will be able to remain in service.
According to Christianson, MnDOT doesn't have much authority over national rail lines, which fall under Federal regulation. "We do inspect the tracks in our state with out own track inspectors, and work with the rail roads on improving at-grade crossings and things of that sort. As much as we can do, we are doing."
Christianson says in light of the Casselton derailment, lawmakers in St.Paul are expected to increase safety measures at the state level, including work on at-grade crossings, especially in areas of greater concern, for example near schools.
With more trains expected, Christianson says MnDOT will work with railroad companies and the Federal Government, "We worry on a regular basis, a city with 3 million population, the Twin Cities Metro area, with 6 crew trains coming through, full, every day we have an on-going daily risk."
One Suspect Arrested, One at Large in Last Month's Central Hillside Shooting
Duluth Police have arrested one of two suspects they believe were involved with an August 19 shooting on the Central Hillside.
Environmentalists Say St. Louis River Toxins Need Attention
Environmentalists and the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Chippewa say the state isn't doing enough to protect the public from toxins in the St. Louis River. A public meeting will be held about the issue tonight in Duluth.
August Job Gains Drive Down Minn. Unemployment Rate
Minnesota has gained 4,200 jobs in August, driving down the state's unemployment rate to 4.3 percent.
Wis. Unemployment Rate Drops; Job Growth Lags Nation
New statistics show Wisconsin's private sector job growth is lagging the national average. Meanwhile, the state's unemployment rate fell in August.
Family of Duluth Stabbing Victim: 'She was Always Happy'
The family of a Duluth stabbing victim spoke out on Wednesday after the 71-year-old woman's tragic death allegedly by the hands of her own son. Mary's ex-son-in-law, Ted Beaudoin, said he's still in shock.