I am really glad to see the Associated Press article about the Bakken crude oil made the front page of The Bellingham Herald. The oil companies have known since the '70s and '80s just how combustible crude shale oil was. That gave them decades to prepare.
In 1981-82 the oil companies had two shale oil plant preparation sites under construction, Challis Idaho and Parachute Colorado. My husband was a superintendent for a subcontractor to Halliburton/Brown&Root, prime contractor to the oil company. As a wife I got guided tours of the job sites. The oil company engineers were only to happy to give a demonstration of how easy it was to use a cigarette lighter to set the oil shale rock on fire. Think gasoline.
I believe the oil companies are being irresponsible when they underplay the volatility of crude shale oil, and send a mile of rail cars across our country that's three million gallons of death when they have a derailment.
The oil companies engineers knew Parachute Co. oil shale was volatile in 1982 and they admit Bakken is more volatile. The oil companies should have implemented stricter classifications before the first shipment left the retort plant. A refinery closer to the oil shale fields might be a better fix.
Fines of $93,000 aren't enough to make a difference.
Linda Mullikin Woods