Franken pushes for new safety measures for oil trains

U.S. Sen. Al Franken has pressed the head of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to take action to ensure the safety of trains carrying highly flammable Bakken crude oil.

Sarah Feinberg, acting administrator of the FRA, recently said that it will take an “all-of-the-above” approach to keep oil trains safe.

In a letter sent Monday, Franken urged Feinberg “to take whatever actions necessary to address the safety of the product itself, as your comments have called for, and require that this crude oil be made less volatile before it is shipped through my state and across this country.”

Bakken crude oil is more volatile than other types of crude oil as it has a lower flash point and more dissolved flammable gases.

Franken is pushing for the FRA to require that the oil be made less volatile before it is shipped and avoid routing high-hazard flammable trains through population centers.  

The senator has also called for more work to prevent accidents.

“We also need to do more to address rail integrity issues to prevent derailments in the first place, and to give communities the resources that they need to respond to an accident with this dangerous fuel,” he wrote.

There have been oil train crashes in Illinois, West Virginia and two in Ontario, Canada in recent weeks that have caused widespread environmental damage.

State lawmakers Rep. Raymond Dehn, Sen. Bobby Joe Champion, Rep. Mike Freiberg and Rep. Frank Hornstein are holding a town hall meeting on oil train safety Tuesday, March 24, 6–7:30 p.m., at the Theodore Wirth Chalet, fireplace room, 1301 Theodore Wirth Parkway.