An oil train derailment and explosion along the Columbia river in Oregon has once again highlighted the dangers of transporting oil by rail. Around noon on Friday June 2nd, 2016, at least 12 rail cars carrying Bakken oil operated by Union Pacific derailed and caught fire. The wreck occurred in the Columbia River Gorge near the community of Mosier in Oregon which is about about 70 miles east of Portland. The derailment and subsequent fire has forced the evacuation of local schools and nearby homes. The I-84 highway has also been closed to traffic. The fire burned overnight and plumes of black smoke were seen billowing from the scene.
The rail line runs adjacent to the Columbia river which is widely used for both recreation and commerce. Residents of the town of Mosier are being asked to boil their water.
“Moving oil by rail constantly puts our communities and
environment at risk,” said Jared Margolis, an attorney at the Center for
Biological Diversity in Eugene, Oregon.
There have been a total of 26 oil trains that have derailed or caught fire in North America over the last ten years. Almost half of these accidents have involved Bakken crude.
In 2013 a derailment and explosion killed 47 people in Lac-Megantic, Quebec and cost at least $1.2 billion. With growing frequency oil trains are moving through highly populated areas and near ecologically sensitive terrain like waterways.
Throughout North America there have been a number of serious oil train derailments and fires in 2015.
Summary of Fossil Fuel Spills in 2015 (Videos)
Montana Oil Train Derailment and Spill
New Oil Train Rules Do Not Go Far Enough
Fourth Oil Train Derailment in a Month and Twelfth for the Year
The End of Oil Trains?
Oil Train Derailments: How Many Wake-Up Calls do we Need?
Event – Worldwide Oil Train Week of Action
More Oil Being Shipped by Rail = More Risks
Curtailing the Transport of Oil by Pipe and Rail
Growing Opposition to Shipping Oil by Rail
Criminal Charges Leveled Against those Responsible for the Lac Megantic Disaster
The Dangers of Transporting Fossil Fuels
Stop Old Trains from Transporting Oil
Tables – Rail Traffic in North America
Graphs – Oil Shipped by Rail