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Does N.D. crude need to be stabilized?

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DICKINSON, N.D. — What can be done to keep trains from becoming “Bakken bombs”?

It’s a question on the minds of many North Dakota residents and leaders, so much that some are calling on the state Industrial Commission to require oil companies to use technology to reduce the crude’s volatility. The words are less than kind.

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“Every public official in America who doesn’t want their citizens incinerated will be invited to Bismarck to chew on the commissioners of the NDIC for failing to regulate the industry they regulate,” Ron Schalow of Fargo told The Dickinson Press in a Facebook message.

A train carrying Bakken crude derailed and exploded July 6, 2013, in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people. Another oil train crashed into a derailed soybean train Dec. 30 near Casselton. No one was killed.

Schalow has started a campaign to require oil companies that drill in North Dakota to use stabilizers, a technology used in Texas to take natural gas liquids off crude to make it safer to ship. His online petition demands that the Industrial Commission force oil companies to remove all explosive natural gas liquids from crude before shipping it by rail. More than 340 people have signed the petition as of Saturday.

Schalow declined an interview, referring instead to his petition and Facebook page titled “The Bomb Train Buck Stops With North Dakota.”

Throughout North Dakota, residents have called on the state’s government to prevent future disasters like these, but some leaders say implementing stabilizers could cause more problems.

“Now you have to pipe from every one of these wells or you have to find a way to get it to this centralized location to be refined,” state Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring said. “That creates huge problems in itself.”

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April Baumgarten
Hi. I'm the assistant editor of The Dickinson Press and I'll be your tour guide. I grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, or 10 miles southwest of South Heart. I was right in the middle. Anyways, my family raises registered Hereford cattle on the ranch, where I learned a lot of valuable lessons. I went to school at Belfield Public School, graduating in the last class as the Belfield Bantams. I then double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown College. After three years of working for the now University of Jamestown's newspaper, The Collegian, I joined the staff at The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson City government and energy reporter. I moved on to the Hazen Star and Center Republican as an editor before being pulled back to Dickinson. And here I am. As someone that grew up and lived in North Dakota for 25 years, I never thought that our corner of the state would ever change. But time has a way of proving me wrong. In the midst of one of the largest oil booms that state has seen I get to watch it all and tell everyone about it. I can't wait to see what happens next.
(701) 456-1210
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