Derailment after derailment. They just keep happening.

Over the past several years, there have been numerous derailments in North America carrying crude from North Dakota’s Bakken Shale. These accidents have sparked increased calls from citizens, the rail industry and lawmakers for the federal government to increase safety regulations.

To keep up with these incidents and new safety regulations, PublicSource provides a roundup of stories every Friday.

Harvard law clinic will help challenge federal oil train laws

Lawyers and students from an environmental law clinic at Harvard University will help Albany County, N.Y., and national environmental groups sue the U.S. government over oil train safety rules passed last year. The groups claim the rules aren’t strict enough and allow unsafe tank cars to stay in operation for too long.

New York communities will get foam from feds

Nineteen New York communities along oil train routes will receive firefighting foam from the federal government this year. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security will be in charge of training local emergency response officials on trailers equipped with foam to fight oil fires. 

Are regulators focused on the right safety improvements?

Over the past year, there have been several articles written about how federal regulators have been too focused on rules for tank car safety rather than implementing stricter rules for track maintenance and rail defect prevention. A recent Columbus Dispatch analysis found two-thirds of rail incidents occur because of human error and track defects.

New method for making oil safer to be tested in North Dakota

A new way of taming the volatility of crude oil, to reduce the chance that it will explode, before it leaves North Dakota on trains will be tested this year. The new method comes after North Dakota officials found an increase in oil producers not complying with requirements for oil conditioning, which removes flammable gases before shipment.

Reach Natasha Khan at or 412-315-0261. Follow her on Twitter @khantasha.

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Natasha is PublicSource's creative director. She runs the organizations visuals team, edits and produces interactive graphics, data visualizations and web packages for PublicSource. She manages the website...