State's New Rail Director Will Tackle Oil-Train Safety, Other Issues

Posted Jun 7, 2016

(TNS) - The map above Alene Tchourumoff’s desk shows lines that appear, at first, to denote rivers -- they sprawl and branch off, weaving and curving across the state.

Instead, they depict a vast network of railroad tracks.

In her new role as Minnesota’s rail director, Tchourumoff will refer back to the map often as she leads Gov. Mark Dayton’s efforts to improve rail safety, train first responders and track the movements of the rail cars that transport Bakken crude oil and other hazardous freight.

While the federal government is the chief regulator of rail safety, Minnesota’s state agencies also have some oversight, spanning the departments of public safety and transportation and the pollution control authority. Concerned that the state needed better coordination of its efforts to monitor oil train issues, the governor created the position of rail director this spring.

The Dayton administration wanted someone “who could look across all those agencies and help bring those different threads together to help be a point of contact and drive and promote the decisions on rail-related issues,” Tchourumoff said.

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