Oil By Rail: Following the Bomb Trains

About the Oil By Rail: Following the Bomb Trains Series

The success of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) created an oil boom from fields in North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation. Without the usual infrastructure such as pipelines or ports in place to move this glut of oil, a new oil-by-rail industry was born to fill that role.

However, as more and longer trains are shipping increasing amounts of Bakken crude oil, North America has seen another consequence of this new industry: train derailments resulting in massive fires and explosions. As a result, these trains have earned a new nickname: bomb trains.

What is at the root of these accidents? How can the industry improve its safety record? Are regulators up to the task?

Check out our ongoing coverage of oil trains.

Main image: Police helicopter view of Lac-Mégantic, the day of the derailment. Credit: Sûreté du Québec police, CC BYSA 1.0

In This Series

on

The Biden administration’s cancelation of the Keystone XL (KXL) pipeline in January appears to be driving a revolutionary improvement in Canadian oil-by-rail safety that could protect the public fr...
on

On December 22, 2020, a train carrying over 100 tank cars of Bakken oil derailed and caught fire in the small Washington town of Custer. This accident highlights how the regulatory system has faile...
on

New regulations were announced by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in July 2020 allowing the transportation of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail. That same mont...
Analysis
on

A train carrying over 100 cars of volatile Bakken oil derailed in Washington state, causing the evacuation of the town of Custer. At least two of the train cars ruptured and the oil ignited and bur...
on

Nonprofit environmental law firm Earthjustice has filed a lawsuit on behalf of a coalition of environmental groups against the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), c...
on

On July 6, Reuters published an article on the potential for a resurgence of moving crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota across the country by rail, due to a judge’s decision to shut do...
on

The federal agency overseeing the safe transport of hazardous materials released a stunning explanation of its May 11 decision striking down a Washington state effort to regulate trains carrying vo...