A BNSF train hauling 109 tank cars derailed in rural North Dakota Wednesday morning, with at least ten cars erupting into flames and forcing evacutations from a nearby town.

The derailent happened at 7:30 am two miles outside of Heimdal, a small twon about an hour’s drive south of Canada.

A dozen residents from Heimdal were evacuated. No injuries were reported.

The BNSF train billowed thick black smoke as the ultra-light and volitile Bakken crude burned in the tank cars.

Just last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation and Canada unveiled tougher safety rules for the transportation of crude by rail.

The new rules call for thicker shells on both new and existing tank cars, enhanced braking systems, operating speed cuts, more routing analysis and more accurate classifications of unrefined petroleum products.

Under the new guidelines high hazard flammable trains (HHFT) saw their travel speed cut to 50 mph while tanker cars that fail to meet new safety standards will have their speeds restricted to 40 mph in urban areas.

Since 2013, there have been explosive crude train derailments in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Alabama.

In July 2013, 47 people were killed in iLac-Megantic, Quebec when a crude train derailed and exploded in the middle of the small city. 

Crude shipments by rail have increased from 29,605 cars in 2010 to 493,126 in 2014, mainly because of increased production in Bakken. 

The Big Slough waterway is close to the tracks near Heimdal where Wednesday’s derailment happened. 

A team of investigators from the Federal Railroad Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were headed to Heimdal Wednesday to lead an examination into the derailment.


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