The high volatility of crude oilFargo, ND (WDAY TV) - When most of us think of crude oil, we picture something black, with the consistency of syrup. But a national "watch-dog" group says the oil that exploded near Casselton, is Bakken Crude and more explosive than gasoline.
By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY
Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - When most of us think of crude oil, we picture something black, with the consistency of syrup.
But a national "watch-dog" group says the oil that exploded near Casselton, is Bakken Crude and more explosive than gasoline.
Thursday, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued a safety alert, warning the public, emergency responders and shippers about the potential high volatility of crude being shipped from the Bakken.
Following the derailment and explosions near Casselton, I think a lot of us probably thought the Bakken crude was like this. Thick and dark. Turns out it is more like this. Thin. Like gas and full of volatile chemicals.
See how it is coming out.
In fact this is video taken in western North Dakota of Bakken Crude Oil.
People who think this is black molasses type oil. It is anything but.
Not black. Not thick.
Scott Smith/Water Defense: “Highly volatile chemicals usually make up 18 percent of gasoline. From my calculations and data analyzed 30-40 percent are these volatile chemicals.”
Scott Smith of Mark Ruffalo's Water Defense nonprofit flew into Fargo when hearing news of the derailment, fire and explosions.
Smith: “Scares the hell out of me.”
He has been to similar train wrecks in Canada where forty seven died, and Alabama.
All carrying North Dakota Bakken Oil.
Smith: “People were vaporized like Hiroshima.”
Smith makes the argument that the crude oil coming out of the Bakken is laden with volatile chemicals.
He has been to the Bakken several times. And worries about towns like Casselton and Fargo, where oil trains come through our towns more than a hundred times a day.
Smith: “If there is an explosion in downtown Fargo like a nuclear bomb. I am not saying that to scare people I am saying it so people do not get hurt. And talking with the mayor of Casselton, he has a lot of concerns.”
Most people on the street we encountered were surprised that Bakken Crude looks more ice tea, than molasses.
Smith and Water Defense have another concern
Smith: “There is a creek right there.”
The creek near the derailment.
Smith: “This spill is not over. The ground is frozen now.”
And with railroads now hauling six times the oil they did a year ago, towns along the tracks will continue to raise concerns over safety issues and consequences that come with an oil boon.
BNSF says the nearest creek is 500 feet away from the derailment, and the railroad is excavating soil and trucking it away.
BNSF says it will work with the state health department once there is a spring thaw.