Gov. Jack Dalrymple says he's is pleased that BNSF Railway is taking additional steps to improve rail safety in North Dakota and throughout the company’s national rail system.
During a recent conference call with Gov. Dalrymple, BNSF Railway Executive Chairman Matt Rose outlined the company’s plans to implement additional measures for improved rail safety. Late today, BNSF informed its customers about the railway’s additional safety measures, which include:
· New operating procedures for trains that carry crude oil, including reduced speed requirements.
· Work with BNSF customers to remove all DOT-111 tank cars from crude oil service.
· Enhancements to the company’s railcar electronic monitoring program..
· Increased track inspections.
“Railroad operations, equipment and maintenance are critical elements in our overall goal to improve rail safety, and I commend BNSF for taking these significant steps,” Dalrymple said. “At the same time, we must move forward on other important aspects of rail safety including the need for new federal tank car standards and greater pipeline capacity. BNSF on Wednesday began requiring that its crude oil trains reduce speed to 35 miles per hour through all communities of 100,000 residents or more. The railway announced that it will work with its customers to transition all DOT 111 tank cars from crude oil service within a year. The older-model tank cars will be replaced with next-generation tank cars and CPC 1232 tank cars modified to meet pending changes in federal safety standards. PHMSA originally planned to issue new tank car safety standards and regulations for the phase out of older tank cars in March. The new standards and phase-out requirements are now expected to be issued in May. During a conference call last week, Dalrymple urged U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to issue new tank car construction standards as soon as possible.
Additionally, BNSF will enhance its electronic monitoring program to more quickly identify tank cars that may need repairs. Rose said any tank cars flagged by electronic monitors for possible defects will be taken out of service immediately.In ongoing discussions with Rose and other BNSF officials, Dalrymple has urged them to adopt new operating procedures for improved rail safety and to enhance rail and tank car maintenance programs. BNSF officials have said the railroad will invest more than $335 million on track maintenance and capital improvement projects in North Dakota this year.Last week, Dalrymple told Secretary Foxx that new tank car safety standards should prioritize the installation of high-capacity relief valves to improve the release of vapor pressures when excessive heat is present. Existing tank cars that can be retrofitted should also be equipped with the improved relief valves as well as other safety improvements, Dalrymple said.
The governor told Foxx that interstate pipelines offer the safest mode of transporting crude oil to market, and he briefed the secretary on the progress of three important pipeline projects that have the collective daily capacity to ship 895,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil to national markets.
Dalrymple and the Public Service Commission also have proposed establishing a state-run railroad safety program as well as a pipeline integrity program that would complement federal oversight in North Dakota. The proposal calls for about $1.4 million in state funding for three positions to enhance railroad track inspections in North Dakota and another three positions for stepped-up inspections of pipelines that transport crude oil and other liquids to market.
Other action taken by the state to improve rail safety includes a state mandate to condition all crude oil produced in North Dakota. On Dec. 9, the Industrial Commission unanimously approved an order requiring all oil producers install and utilize oil-conditioning equipment to significantly reduce the volatility of Bakken crude oil. The order includes strict parameters for temperatures and pressures under which the equipment must operate to ensure that light hydrocarbons are removed before oil is shipped to market. The conditioning order brings every barrel of North Dakota crude oil within a set standard, requiring oil be stabilized so that its vapor pressure is no greater than 13.7 pounds per square inch (psi) before shipment.
North Dakota’s vapor pressure standard for oil is more stringent than the national standard developed by the American National Standards Institute and the American Petroleum Institute, which established that crude oil is stable at a vapor pressure of 14.7 psi. The order requires that oil producers install and utilize conditioning equipment by April 1. The Industrial Commission approved the oil-condition order after holding a public hearing and providing for an extended public comment period. Additionally, several state agencies are studying a wide range of current rail safety issues in North Dakota, including a comprehensive assessment of the state's overall rail system, railroad crossing safety, train speeds and emergency preparedness
The Grafton Chamber of commerce elected two new directors to the Chamber Board and held an election of officers at its March 15th board meeting. New directors include Kristy Jelinek and KXPO's Brian James. Officers include Brad Moe who was elected to serve another term as president. Erin Morgan will serve as the VP with Dennis Sevigny elected as treasurer. Executive Chamber Director Todd Morgan will act as secretary. Morgan says the board will direct policy and activities for the Chamber for the upcoming year as well as review reports from committees and make determinations in regards to spending. Morgan says he's excited to have the new board members and officers and he looks forward to another good year at the Chamber. He says the new members always bring in new energy and new ideas. The Chamber Board meets the third Thursday of every month at 7 AM.
The Minto Rural Fire Protection District has received a $2,500 donation from Walsh County farmer Maurice Feltman and America’s Farmers Grow Communities, sponsored by the Monsanto Fund. The donation will help the organization with the costs associated with sending volunteers to training seminars, such as travel expenses and admission fees. The Minto Rural Fire Protection District serves all of Walsh County, which has roughly 11,000 residents.
“We attend training every year and this donation will help us cover those costs,” said Fire Chief David Gerszewski. “It is not very often that we get this large of a donation. We want to thank the Feltman Family and the Monsanto Fund, it is very much appreciated.”
For five years, America’s Farmers Grow Communities has collaborated with farmers to donate over $16.5 million to over 7,300 community organizations across rural America. This year winning farmers will direct another $3.3 million to nonprofits to help fight rural hunger, purchase life saving fire and EMS equipment, support ag youth leadership programs, buy much needed classroom resources, and so much more.
America’s Farmers Grow Communities is part of the America’s Farmers initiative. Since 2010, the America’s Farmers campaign and programs have advocated on behalf of farmers and their efforts to meet society’s needs through agriculture. Today, consumers are more interested than ever in agriculture and how food is grown. Consider joining the conversation and helping to raise awareness about agriculture. Learn more at FoodDialogues.com.
A sister program in the America’s Farmers effort, Grow Rural Education, is currently in its farmer nomination phase. Farmers interested in supporting math and science education in their communities should visit www.GrowRuralEducation.com from now through April 1 to learn
The FSA deadline to Elect ARC or PLC is March 31st. Missing the March 31st deadline will result in the farm defaulting to PLC for 2015-2018. The farm would not be eligible for any potential 2014 year PLC payments. No appointment is necessary.
A Devils Lake man is behind bars charged in connection with a murder near Viking, Minnesota. Police had to travel 135 miles west to Devils Lake to track down a murder suspect.
"The vehicle was found out on Devils Lake," said Marshall County Sheriff Jason Boman. It was discovered Thursday night still running and on fire. Police immediately realized it was the pickup truck that was reported missing from the home of Ronald Foss in Viking. The 64-year-old had been found murdered in his home Tuesday night after he had not shown up for work the previous two days. "The vehicle was located about a mile from the suspect's residence," said Boman. The suspect is 25-year-old Ray Littlewolf of Devils Lake. "What put it together, the vehicle was found there, we had a few leads it could be Mr. Littlewolf," said Boman.
Investigators tell WDAZ News Littlewolf came onto their radar almost immediately. While searching through Foss' wallet at the crime scene, they found receipts from purchases he had made Saturday afternoon. One at Mendard's in Grand Forks. Another at the Holiday gas station in East Grand Forks. At both places, another man was seen with Foss in surviellance video obtained by police. Working on an investigative hunch police asked people at Northland Rescue Mission if they knew the man seen with Ronald Foss. They recognized the man as Ray Littlewolf. "He has given a statment to the Minnesota BCA., said Boman.
According to court papers, Littlewolf admits to beating and stabbing Foss to death during a fight inside Foss' home Saturday night. What the two were arguing about and how they knew each other remains unanswered. "Still doing the investigation, still working on all the contents of it, hopefully in a few days we will have a lot more answers," said Boman. Ray Littlewolf will appear in Ramsey County Court on Monday for an extradition hearing to Minnesota. When he is returned, Littlewolf will face a slew of charges including murder and manslaughter.
Project Lifesaver, a service that helps locate individuals prone to wandering, such as those diagnosed with Autism, Alzheimers and Down Syndrome, is teaming up with the Walsh County Sheriff’s Department. The department will be involved in training with the group next Wednesday at 3:00 p.m. Project Lifesaver International is a community based, public safety, non-profit organization that provides law enforcement, fire/rescue and other first responders and caregivers with equipment and training to quickly locate and rescue individuals with cognitive disorders. To date Project Lifesaver agencies have conducted over 2,800 rescues with a 100 % success rate. For more information you can visit their website at http://www.projectlifesaver.org/
The Marshall County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a phone scam where a person claiming to be from the F.B.I. calls to inform a person that they've won a large amount of money from Publishers Clearing House and need to send a Western Union money gram for $1,000 to claim the prize. Marshall County Sheriff Jason Boman says the victims then receive a call from a person posing to be from a local Law Enforcement Agency (Using a real officer’s name) saying that they received a fax from the F.B.I and telling the victim it's real and to send the money. Bowman says this is a scam and do not send them any money or give them any personal or bank account information. He says if you receive a similar call tell the caller that you are going to contact your local Law Enforcement to verify and then contact authorities.
If you have any questions, please contact the Marshall County Sheriff’s Office at 218.745.5411. Thank you.
Supporters of a bill that seeks to provide some assistance for North Dakota's thousands of unpaid family caregivers are hoping that the legislation will be restored when it comes before a Senate committee Tuesday morning.
The CARE Act already has been approved by the House, but Josh Askvig, associate state director of advocacy for AARP North Dakota, said the version House lawmakers passed gutted the original language. "Now, unfortunately during that process on the House side, they amended the bill into a what we feel is an unrelated study on home and community-based services - which is great," he said, "but they've already studied home and community-based services and we're really focusing on those individuals who provide the uncompensated care."
The original version of the CARE Act requires that the name of a family caregiver be recorded upon a person being admitted into a hospital, and then that caregiver be notified when the loved one is going to be discharged home or transferred to another setting. Askvig said the act also would require that facilities provide instructions and demonstrations on complex medical tasks to be performed at home such as medication management, wound care and injections.
"We're trying to help make sure they have the tools and resources and knowledge to do it correctly," he said, "so that their loved ones, when they come home, can stay home rather than risking a hospital readmission, or hopefully not progressing into some sort of worse situation."
Askvig said polling shows that more than 80 percent of North Dakotans age 45 and older support all of the main provisions of the CARE Act. According to the latest figures, there are now nearly 110,000 people in the state providing unpaid care for a family member.
CARE Act information is online at states.aarp.org. The survey is at AARP.org.
A report released yesterday by the national weather service says the spring thaw in the Red River Basin is almost completed. The report says this years melt should cause a "minimal response" in rivers and streams throughout eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota. The Weather Service says flooding is unlikely to occur this year. At this point, the only snow remaining in the area lies in tree lines and shelter belts. Forecasters say dry and warm weather is expected to continue for the next few days, which should take care of any remaining snow.
The Grafton City Council on Monday night approved second reading of an amendment to a health and sanitation ordinance relating to structures without utility service. The ordinance, adding an article IV to chapter 12 of the health and sanitation code states that for a structure to be classified with "services connected," the electric service must be live or charged and available for immediate use to all equipment and fixtures throughout the structure. The ordinance also states that the water service must also be available to all fixtures and that the sanitary sewer system must flow freely from all interior fixtures to the City Main. The ordinance applies to any structures utilized for residential type habitation. Violation of the ordinance is a misdemeanor offense and punishable by fine, imprisonment or both upon conviction. Before the amendment's passage, utility services were only required to be connected up to the structure itself with no stipulation that the services needed to be usable by fixtures within the residence.