The Texas Department of Public Safety has released information about crude oil trains crossing the state, following the dismissal of one railroad’s arguments that they be kept confidential.
The documents released Friday show that two railroads, Fort Worth-based BNSF and Kansas City Southern operate trains carrying 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil through Texas.
BNSF brings the trains south into Texas on two routes, one of which terminates near Galveston and another that continues into Louisiana. As many as four trains operate through Fort Worth every week and as many as six operate through Houston, according to the most recent of three reports, dated Sept. 30, 2014.
Kansas City Southern operates as many as five trains a month into Nederland, Texas, from Kansas City, according to a document dated Aug. 22.
Bakken oil, which is extracted from shale rock formations through hydraulic fracturing, enabled North Dakota to become the nation’s No. 2 oil producer behind Texas. About 60 percent of the state’s oil production moves by rail.
After a series of derailments, including one that killed 47 people in Quebec, regulators concluded that Bakken oil shipped by rail posed a higher risk to public safety than other kinds of oil. The oil industry has disputed the finding.
The U.S. Department of Transportation required railroads to provide the information to state emergency officials last May following a derailment and fire in Lynchburg, Va.
Railroads initially asked states to sign agreements to keep the reports confidential, but many states determined the documents could be released to news organizations that requested them under open records laws.
McClatchy first requested the documents in July. The Texas Department of Public Safety sought the opinion of the state attorney general’s office before releasing them and gave the railroads an opportunity to object. Kansas City Southern argued in a December letter that release of the reports would compromise security, harm customers and enable competitors.
In its ruling in late February, the state attorney general’s office rejected those assertions and ordered the documents released to McClatchy and other news organizations.
Texas joins more than 20 states that have released the reports in full, including the number of trains per week, their routes and the counties they pass through.