Amy McBeth, Minneapolis, Published February 21 2014
Letter: Rail facts missing in Forum editorialThe railroad will continue to be an essential option to transport North Dakota’s oil – and all of its products – to markets around the country. Whether a grain train or an oil train is operating on our tracks, we have always believed that every accident is preventable, which is why we focus so much on preventing them in the first place.
A Forum editorial on its series “The Crude Frontier” cites increased oil releases in recent years but fails to present all the facts that would provide a clearer picture of the safety of the railroad.
In 2013, BNSF Railway had the fewest number of main line derailments in company history. We moved all kinds of hazardous materials on our network, and 99.998 percent of those shipments made it to destinations without an accident-caused release. For crude shipments in particular, the record is equally strong: 99.997 percent of crude shipments on our network arrive without an accident-caused release.
Much more crude oil is moving by rail in recent years. Even with those increasing shipments, derailments that result in the release of crude oil on BNSF are very rare. Yet we also believe that any incident like the one in Casselton is one too many and must be prevented.
Rail continues to be the safest method of ground transportation for all hazardous materials. Since the Casselton derailment, BNSF and the rail industry, the petroleum industry and federal agencies are aggressively working together to further reduce risk and improve safety.
McBeth is director, public affairs, BNSF Railway.