Gov. Dayton demands BNSF oil trains make changes in Minneapolis

Governor Mark Dayton wrote a letter Tuesday to Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s CEO concerning oil train traffic in Minneapolis. Dayton is demanding BNSF to make changes to oil train routes by the end of October.

According to MnDOT, an additional 99,000 people are now living within the half-mile evacuation zone of crude oil routes, bringing the statewide total to 425,448 individuals who live in an evacuation zone.  Noteworthy sites located within the new zone include Target Field, the Target Center, the University of Minnesota, and Downtown Minneapolis.

Dayton's list of demands include:

-Issue a public statement stating that this reroute is temporary—include timelines for when the corridor will return to normal operations, and keep as many oil trains as possible out of this area of concern. Reroute more non-oil traffic to this route and keep oil trains on existing oil routes.

-Do not operate crude oil trains under Target Field Stadium during events.

-Extend your first responder training program to all communities along the new route, and mitigate any known rail infrastructure vulnerabilities along the new route.

-Verify that the same level of crude-by-rail inspections and detection performed on existing crude oil routes, including the placement of wheel detectors, is also being conducted on this new routing.

-Assess the route for locations and characteristics of potential worst-case discharges.

To read the full letter, click here

BNSF Railway statement

"BNSF has multiple routes in the metro area that we utilize for hauling a variety of commodities. We comply with the law and report to the state crude volumes of a certain size and their routes and when they change by 25 percent. That occurred in this case where we have a major expansion project occurring and are rerouting some traffic to accommodate that construction work. Crude oil was already being shipped on the route in question. Volumes and routes can fluctuate for a number of reasons. In all areas of the metro region where we move crude oil and other hazmat, we take a number of steps to reduce risk. We'll be talking directly with the Governor on his concerns and our ongoing efforts to safely move all commodities by rail."