Oil Train Derails in Columbia River Gorge:

On June 3, 2016, a unit train derailed on the Union Pacific railroad tracks in Mosier, Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge an hour east of Portland. There was plume of black smoke and 50' flames rising above the train. Mosier School was evacuated. No injuries were reported.

The train was carrying Bakken crude oil on the Union Pacific rail line through the town of Mosier headed to an oil refinery in Washington. The placards on the train say 1267 — signifying that the trains were carrying crude oil.

Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper, observed the fire: “I never thought I’d see an oil train derail and burn in my community. I watched in horror as the red flames and the black plume of smoke filled the air. How many more times will we threaten our schools and neighborhoods with dangerous oil. Enough is enough.

This is what happens when we become a fossil fuel corridor. We need more from our states than just cleaning up spills. It’s time for a commitment from Governors Brown and Inslee to prohibit the use of any state land or water for fossil fuel export.

The only silver lining is that this dramatic derailment should spell the end of the proposed Tesoro oil terminal in Vancouver. I can’t imagine how anyone could approve that project, and invite more trains, after this terrible derailment.”

Updates:

  • June 5, 2016, Mosier, Oregon:
    The City of Mosier passed an emergency motion calling on the Union Pacific Railroad to remove all oil from damaged cars before rail traffic is reopened. Shockingly, Union Pacific pushed the derailed and damaged cars, some full of oil, to the side of the tracks in a rush to reopen the line. Union Pacific plans to reopen the line soon, unless our elected leaders intervene. Put safety first. Clean up the explosive oil. It’s time for Governor Brown and the State of Oregon to protect our region from reckless fossil fuel shipments. Call Governor Kate Brown at (503) 378–4582, (press 3 to leave a comment), ask the Governor to: Stand with the City of Mosier commit to using all state authority to protect people from oil trains.
  • June 5, 2016, Mosier, Oregon:
    Water quality information regarding Mosier derailment, according to incident command: There are still many outstanding questions, but this is the currently available information. The Mosier sewage treatment plant (STP) is still not operational. A vault was installed today to catch sewage. From the vault, the sewage will be collected in trucks and shipped to functional STP. No timeline on STP fix. The main pipe leading to the STP was crushed by a derailed oil car. So, for some time, the raw sewage was spilling from the pipe into the ground. It is unknown how much discharged to the ground, or where that ended up. Yesterday, state officials reported an oil sheen on the River. They boomed the mouth of Rock Creek. Oil from the spilled cars apparently entered the broken sewage pipe and then the STP and was then discharged to the Columbia River. Again, no numbers on how much. But they pumped out 10,000 gallons of oil from the pipe and the STP. There is likely still a large amount of oil and sewage in the soil, or groundwater. Many of these explanations raise more questions than they answer. Suffice to say, there are a lot of unknowns and we should use caution when using the Columbia. We collected E. coli samples last night near the mouth of Rock Creek, which are being processed (24 hour incubation time).
  • June 4, 2016, Mosier, Oregon:
    Updates via Ecology: Oil was observed on the Columbia River early this morning. Ecology personnel is on scene at the Command Post, in a small boat on the Columbia River, and on a helicopter overflight. Rainbow sheen is visible on the Oregon side of the Columbia River inside containment boom near the mouth of Rock Creek.The source of the sheen appears to be subsurface. No fish or wildlife impacts have been visually observed at this time, but Ecology Responders out on the river are continuing to search for the presence of any impacts. The fire is out. No foam was used to extinguish the fire, but small amounts were hand applied to snuff out burning rail road ties. Robust air monitoring in place for community and responder safety. Work is proceeding to remove the intact tank cars, fix the track, and offload crude oil from the heavily damaged cars.
  • June 4, 2016, Hood River, Oregon:
    Over 150 people attended a Community Gathering in Hood River calling to end dangerous oil trains, in response to the Union Pacific oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon that occurred on Friday. Speakers at the rally included tribal representatives, faith leaders, local elected leaders, and other community members from the Columbia River Gorge, Portland, and Vancouver.
  • June 3, 2016, Mosier, Oregon:
    A Mosier Fire Department Volunteer reported, two cars on fire, Bakken Crude, 1267 marker on train, model tbd. Mandatory evacuation in part of Mosier. Fire fighting foam is available but an insufficient amount. Waiting for some of the fuel to boil off and after that they are hoping to disconnect the two damaged train cars and pull away the undamaged train cars.
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