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BILLINGS, Mont. — At least 10 times since 2008, freight trains hauling oil across North America have derailed and spilled significant quantities of crude, with most of the accidents touching off fires or catastrophic explosions.
The derailments released almost 3 million gallons of oil, nearly twice as much as the largest pipeline spill in the United States since at least 1986. And the deadliest wreck killed 47 people in the town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec.
Those findings, from a review of US and Canadian accident records, underscore a lesser-known danger of America’s oil boom, which is changing the global energy balance and raising urgent safety questions at home. Adding to the danger is the high volatility of the light, sweet crude from the Bakken oil patch in Montana and North Dakota.
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