A safety alert issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation warned about the potential high volatility of Bakken crude.

The warning Thursday said Bakken’s light, sweet crude oil ignites at a lower temperature than traditional heavy crudes.

Lighter crudes contain more natural gas and ignite at lower temperatures because of gas vapors emitted with rising temperatures.

Last week a crude train derailed and exploded near Casselton, N.D. There were no injuries but most of the town’s 2,300 were forced to evacuate while a toxic cloud spread over the area.

Bakken crude production from eastern Montana and western North Dakota has spiked to about a million barrels per day. The region is now the second-largest oil producer in the United States behind Texas.

In July, a derailment and explosion in Lac-Megantic, Quebec killed 47 people and destroyed much of the town.

And in November, a train hauling Bakken crude from North Dakota derailed and exploded in Alabama, spilling more than 700,000 gallons of oil from 26 tanker cars. No one was killed in that accident.

The amount of oil moving by rail in the U.S. has spiked since 2009, from just more than 10,000 tanker cars to a projected 400,000 cars in 2013, the Tulsa World said.


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