- Associated Press - Sunday, October 30, 2016

WILLISTON, N.D. (AP) - North Dakota has added another step to help ensure the safety of crude transported by rail with the addition of two inspectors.

The inspectors have so far completed a combined 76 inspections covering more than 1,000 miles of the state’s 3,000 miles of track, the Williston Herald (https://bit.ly/2dSjGUU) reported. Their focus is track and mechanical issues, which have been identified as the source of the highest number and severity of accidents.

“Now we have two state inspectors on the job every day enhancing third-party oversight of the rail system that is vital to our economy and runs through the heart of nearly every North Dakota community,” said Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak.

Improving rail transport safety has been a multi-faceted approach. The state first set guidelines for vapor pressure to make Bakken crude more uniform and no more explosive than gasoline.

In the meantime, federal regulators strengthened rail car standards and made grants for training and equipment for first responders available in North Dakota to ensure all departments know how to respond to accidents involving hazardous materials.

According to Fedorchak the inspectors will rotate going through Willinston more than once year. The rotations will be decided based on which areas need it the most as well as the schedules of the federal inspectors.

The state’s inspectors have been certified by the Federal Railroad Administration and are authorized to inspect federal rail standards and have the same authority and tools as federal inspectors, and can work independently.

The inspectors are hired by and held accountable to the North Dakota Public Service Commission.

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Information from: Williston Herald, https://www.willistonherald.com

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