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Our View: Prosperity from Bakken comes with responsibility

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The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued a safety alert this week on Bakken crude oil, warning emergency responders, the public and others that the light, sweet crude may be more flammable than traditional heavy crude oil.

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The PHMSA and the Federal Railroad Administration are working on “Operation Classification,” also known as the Bakken Blitz, to do unannounced inspections and testing of crude oil samples to verify that the oil from the Bakken formation, found primarily in western North Dakota, has been properly classified.

The PHMSA expects to have final test results in the near future for the gas content, corrosivity, toxicity, flammability and certain other characteristics of the Bakken crude oil, which should more clearly inform the proper characterization of the material.

The recent derailment and tanker fire of Bakken crude in Casselton alone should serve notice for everyone that with prosperity come dangers and consequences.

Trains haul hazardous, explosive and toxic chemicals on their rails daily that have nothing to do with the Bakken. So do semi trucks and pipelines beneath the ground. Still, there have been three derailments in the last year, pipeline leaks and many more semi wrecks during the same time period hauling Bakken crude.

Logic would dictate the reason there has been more accidents as of late is that the transportation volume has grown expeditiously in our area and nation.

Accidents, at the very least, are a huge expense and sadly can be deadly as proven by the derailment in Quebec.

Everyone hopes there won’t be any more accidents and the industry, state and nation are working hard to insure they aren’t.

Still, all the hard work, training and planning in the world can’t ensure there won’t be another accident, that is why they’re called accidents. Those of us who share the roads with the increased semi traffic need to be extra cautious in light of the recent accidents. Those of us whose towns are split by railroad tracks have a right to ask what is sitting or traveling on the tracks.

Our state and nation has and will continue to benefit greatly from the Bakken oil development.

But we need to know that our state is doing everything possible to prevent future accidents and first responders and fire departments are equipped with everything needed to respond if there is an accident.

The Dickinson Press Editorial Board consists of Publisher Harvey Brock and Managing Editor Dustin Monke.

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