Emergency Responders React to Oil Explosion - KFYRTV.COM - Bismarck, ND - News, Weather, Sports

Emergency Responders React to Oil Explosion

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North Dakota first responders are paying close attention to an oil train explosion in Quebec, Canada that killed five people over the weekend. The train was not only filled with Bakken oil, but several trains traverse our state every day filled with crude. Emergency personnel are preparing in case a similar incident ever happens here.

As Rick Graba looks over the hazmat gear in Bismarck, he reflects on the oil train explosion in Canada.

"We would hope that it would never happen, because it can be really hard stress on a fire department. We do not have many examples. We have never had an incident like that here," says Bismarck Fire Captain Rick Graba.

Over the last five years, 22 crude rail loading facilities were built across North Dakota, allowing for 675,000 barrels to move by train every day.

"Rail movements are moving towards the east coast, west coast and gulf coast refining markets where pipelines traditionally cannot reach. So, rail has offered a lot of flexibility and optionality for North Dakota crude oil in order to reach markets that previously did not have options," said Justin Kringstad with the North Dakota Pipeline Authority.

Because about 75% of the Bakken crude travels by rail, firefighters receive constant hazmat training, in case of a potential spill or accident. Graba says their three main priorities are protecting people, property and the environment.

"It involves a lot of people doing things and making very important risk benefit decisions right off the bat," says Graba.

So while crews clean up the incident in Quebec, North Dakota will be watching and learning.

"I really hope that we can learn from it, figure out exactly happened, so that the chances of something happening like this again are greatly reduced or eliminated," said Kringstad.

"We just have to read about those, because I do not ever want to experience them. But we have to be ready," said Graba.

In addition to taking hazmat training, some North Dakota firefighters travel to classes around the country to become experts in accidents or spills.

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