- Associated Press - Thursday, February 19, 2015

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - The derailment in West Virginia of a train carrying oil from North Dakota is prompting complaints that state and federal governments aren’t doing enough to ensure the safe transport of crude by rail.

A train carrying 3 million gallons of crude from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields derailed Monday in the unincorporated town of Mount Carbon, West Virginia. The derailment leaked oil into a river tributary, burned down a house, prompted the evacuation of hundreds of families and forced nearby water treatment plans to temporarily shut down.

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader told KFGO radio that it’s “a national emergency” and he’s calling for a congressional investigation into rail accidents involving North Dakota crude, after half a dozen incidents since 2008.

Trains hauling Bakken oil also have been involved in major accidents in Virginia, North Dakota, Oklahoma and Alabama, as well as in Canada, where 47 people were killed by an explosive derailment in 2013 in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

“This is a serious safety issue affecting the American people,” Nader said.

The oil train that exploded in West Virginia met the industry’s voluntary 2011 safety standards, but an increase in accidents has the Obama administration considering tougher rules for tank cars - such as thicker tanks, shields to prevent tanks from crumpling, rollover protections and electronic brakes that could make cars stop simultaneously, rather than slam into each other.

The Dakota Resource Council environmental group said in a statement that North Dakota officials are to blame for not ensuring Bakken oil is safe to transport by rail.

“Responsibility for this (West Virginia) explosion is squarely at the feet of North Dakota officials from Gov. (Jack) Dalrymple on down for their inept handling of regulating oil extraction in North Dakota,” the group said. “(Dalrymple’s) administration is putting people’s lives and property at risk here and across the continent.”

Dalrymple’s spokesman, Jeff Zent, said the statement indicates that the group is either uninformed or is choosing not to acknowledge the state’s progress to ensure safe oil transport. He cited a recent order that includes strict parameters for temperatures and pressures for transported oil.

“Most producers have already installed the equipment necessary to meet the final deadline of April 1,” Zent said.

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