Oil train derailments could average 10 per year, report says

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In the wake of a crude oil derailment in West Viriginia last week, the Associated Press has an exclusive report on a federal analysis predicting the nation will see an average of 10 oil train derailments a year in the next two decades.

The projected cost is $4 billion in damage and hundreds of deaths, if a derailment happens in a populated area.

The Department of Transportation report published last July was previously unreported, but officials continue to stress the need for better safety measures. It's a hot topic as the oil boom in Montana and North Dakota has led to an increase in the amount carried by trains.

The Associated Press reports in 2015, "Rails are expected to move nearly 900,000 car loads of oil and ethanol in tankers. Each can hold 30,000 gallons of fuel." Fifty oil trains go through Minnesota on a weekly basis.

The West Virginia accident and a January derailment in Ontario involved new tank cars designed and built to be more stable than older ones.

The Associated Press reports it could take a decade to upgrade 50,000 tank cars, but federal officials are pushing for it to happen in three years.

Minnesota emergency responders said they're not fully prepared to respond to an oil train disaster in a report that was released in January.

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