A moratorium on all oil train traffic through the Columbia Gorge

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

In the wake of the oil train disaster last week, Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Governor Kate Brown, and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici have called for a halt on all oil train traffic through the Columbia Gorge.

From their statement:

“Oil train tankers are still lying on their sides in Mosier, the ground and water have yet to be cleaned up, and there’s still no good explanation for the cause of Friday’s crash. It is too soon to resume oil train traffic through the Columbia River Gorge. Union Pacific should not resume oil train traffic before meeting with the community of Mosier and giving a thorough explanation for the cause of this accident and an assurance that the company is taking the necessary steps to prevent another one. A train full of toxic crude oil derailing, burning, and exploding near homes, schools, and businesses is a worst fear realized for people who live in Mosier and in other communities along the tracks throughout the Gorge. They deserve to know that the causes of this derailment have been both identified and fixed, and there should be a moratorium on oil train traffic until they get those explanations and assurances. We will also be pushing for the Department of Transportation to take a hard look at alternative routes for oil and hazardous material trains that would put fewer Oregonians at risk of a dangerous crash in their backyards.”

And while Union Pacific has agreed to halt oil train traffic, they are allowing other trains to pass through. The mayor of Mosier, Arlene Burns, isn't happy about it:

Some Mosier residents remain under a level two evacuation order, she said, meaning they need to be ready to leave their homes at a moment's notice. How can the area be safe for train traffic, she asked, if it's not for residents?

"We feel it's still unsafe for trains of any kind to come through the area when these oil bombs are sitting on our front steps," Burns said.

Burns said the damaged tank cars appear to be dripping oil. "A spark from the train could catch that on fire again," she said. "It still is way too soon to be taking trains through."


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