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Safety first

By Staff | Sep 19, 2014

A hearing is scheduled at the Department of Mineral Resources, 1000 E. Calgary Ave., Bismarck, for Sept. 23 2014, at 9 a.m., to discuss best way to prepare Bakken crude for safe transport by rail. Stabilization is the safest method!

The public and the oil industry will both have a chance to comment on what each feels is best for North Dakota and the nation. The rest of the nation will be watching as North Dakota regulators decide on a method to stabilize Bakken crude. Our regulators must make their decision based on what will make Bakken crude the safest; not what method will cost the oil industry the least.

This past week I received the City of Fargo Fall Newsletter in the mail. It explained Fargo’s preparation to ensure city safety by listing their emergency protocols, as well as all the equipment and emergency supplies the Fargo Fire Department is storing for Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). This is to insure rapid response in case of a train explosion. I am glad Fargo is ready in case of a catastrophe involving explosive Bakken crude oil.

What about the towns that are not able to make the same deal Fargo made with BNSF? A train derailment of Bakken crude has already claimed the lives of over 40 people in the small town of Lac Megantic, Quebec. A similar derailment resulted in billions of dollars of damage in nearby Casselton. Fortunately, there was no loss of life.

The best solution to ensure trains do not become rolling bombs through our communities is to stabilize the crude by stripping out natural gas liquids (NGLs) before it is loaded in tank rail cars.

Stabilization and conditioning are two processes that exist to potentially strip NGLs from Bakken crude.

Stabilization is the tried and true method used in Texas oil fields. Stabilization processes require the construction of processing equipment, which North Dakota needs.

Conditioning is an unreliable method, which uses a separation process at the wellhead to strip NGLs. Conditioning does not require the infrastructure like stabilization. However, conditioning is not an effective stripping method of the NGLs to be safe for our communities.

Let’s fill the meeting room with concerned citizens to voice our concerns to the Department of Mineral Resources and the North Dakota Industrial Commission.

Again this is about safety first, plain and simple.

– Lynn C. Wolff, Fargo

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