Inadequate Trailers | VideoAlex Hagan | 10/30/2012
Energy companies need different kinds of trailers and tankers to get the job done. They buy trucks from manufacturers all over the country and also from foreign nations. But some mechanics are skeptical of those international manufacturers. Roger McMorris repairs trailers at J and J`s in Dickinson. He says in the past three to four months they have seen trailers that are not built to the same high quality levels as American made ones.
"It`s just not built exactly like we would have. Out in the oil fields you have rough roads and lot of gravel."
One potential danger is the crowsnest on top of the trailer. He says it could crush and leak contents out of the tanker if it rolls over.
"It`s only built out of eight inch aluminum so in my opinion it`s not adequate."
Every manufacturer is required to pass minimum federal safety standards, but once they are delivered to North Dakota there is further inspection.
"That trailer would have to be certified by an individual who has specialized training in tanker vehicles to make sure that it is meeting all those safety standards," said Eldon Mehrer with Motor Carrier Operations.
North Dakota`s Motor Carrier Operations inspects more than 16,000 trucks a year, many of which are tankers from the oil fields. Mehrer says there are trailers that are built better than others, but as long as they pass the minimum inspection, they can be used in the oil fields.
"We`re well aware of whether it`s tank vehicles whether it`s vehicles holding pipe. Anything associated with oil, we`re pretty familiar with that and we know how to handle any type of situation involving those vehicles."
Even if they meet the minimum requirements, some mechanics say those foreign trailers are still hard to fix if they are involved in an accident.
"It may or may not crush that lid, and cause a leak you don`t know until it happens," McMorris said.
Until it does happen, these trailers will continue to drive around oil country.
McMorris says foreign trailers are sometimes cheaper than American made trailers.