Representatives speak out against oil trains

Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, as well as Governor Kate Brown and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici released a statement June 6, calling for a temporary halt to oil train traffic through the Columbia River Gorge in light of last Friday’s derailment of a Union Pacific oil train in Mosier, Ore.

“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.”

The lone company in Columbia County shipping crude oil by rail, Global Partners, ceased transloading operations at Port Westward in January. It laid off 28 employees and stated at the time, reductions in staff were the “direct result of severe headwinds affecting the crude oil market and the corresponding decrease in crude oil transloading activities at the facility.”

The price of crude oil has since rebounded to around $50 per barrel, but is still far below the high of nearly $110 per barrel the oil fetched in 2014.