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Questions mount about the safety of shipping North Dakota crude oil

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Northtown Yard
A train leaves the BNSF Northtown Yard in Minneapolis, Minn. Sept. 12, 2014.
Jeffrey Thompson / MPR News

Hundreds of rail cars filled with North Dakota crude oil pass through Minnesota each day. That reality has state and federal leaders worried about safety.  

Some — including Gov. Mark Dayton — argue oil companies should take steps to reduce the oil's volatility before loading it onto train cars. Proponents say that would minimize the chance for explosions if a train were to derail or crash. Dayton sent a letter to North Dakota's governor this week calling for stricter standards on the quality of oil shipped by rail.  

But industry reps say that simply isn't necessary — that their oil is safe to ship.  

MPR's Cathy Wurzer spoke with Chester Dawson, a senior correspondent at the Wall Street Journal, who has been covering this issue from North Dakota.