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Timeline of events:
- Aug. 3, 2016: Two-month anniversary since the oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon.
The oil industry has shown that it is not able to transport their product safely by rail. New proposals such as Tesoro Savage in Vancouver, Washington, would increase the number of trains. Last Friday, July 29, 2016 marked the final day of the Vancouver Oil Terminal Hearings. If built, it would be the largest oil export facility in North America.
- June 24, 2016, Olympia, Washington: Governor Inslee met with federal railroad authorities, called for halt to Bakken crude oil trains until new safety measures enacted. Governor Jay Inslee said: “Action at the federal level is imperative. Slower train speeds, faster phase-out of older tank cars and electronic braking systems are real actions that can prevent potentially devastating accidents. I made clear to Feinberg that federal regulators need to act on these things immediately. We’ve asked UP to halt their trains until they implement needed inspection protocols. A moratorium should be placed on any oil trains in Washington using track that is not inspected to these rigorous standards. I will continue pressing federal regulators and the railroads for swift action.”
- June 23, 2016, Washington, DC: Federal Rail Administration released "Preliminary Findings Report: Mosier, Oregon; Union Pacific Derailment." Statement from Brett VandenHeuvel: “The Federal Rail Administration's investigation blamed the oil train derailment in Mosier on Union Pacific's failure to maintain its tracks. Despite its dangerous tracks, Union Pacific claims it will restart oil trains this week. It is time for the FRA to listen to the requests of Senators Wyden and Merkley, Governor Brown, and local electeds, and issue an immediate moratorium on dangerous oil trains through the Columbia River Gorge."
- June 17, 2016, Salem, Oregon: Governor Kate Brown calls for a ban on the transport of oil by rail until safety can be greatly improved. The OpEd in the Oregonian featured the Governor’s strongest words yet, and we thank her for taking a stand.
- June 16, 2016, Salem, Oregon: Oregon Department of Transportation calls on the Federal Railroad Administration to issue a moratorium on unit oil trains traveling through the state on tracks that contain the same type fasteners as in the derailment in Mosier, OR.
June 10, 2016, Mosier, Oregon: One week after a 96-car Union Pacific oil train derailed and caught fire outside Mosier, Oregon in the Columbia River Gorge, leaders from Northwest communities are coming together. Providing an update on how Mosier has been impacted by the derailment and call for action to prevent further disasters.
- June 9, 2016, Mosier, Oregon: Pacific NW Tribes Gather in Mosier with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.: the Yakama Nation, along with Pacific Northwest tribes, hosted a gathering as a reaction to the recent oil train derailment. Pacific Northwest tribal leaders from the Yakama, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Lummi Nation spoke about tribal treaty rights, showing their support for the city and residents of Mosier, speakers acknowledged the first responders, and called for immediate action to stop dangerous oil trains. More photos here. Watch Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s speech here.
- June 7, 2016, Mosier, Oregon: Stop Dangerous Oil Trains Today: Sign our petition. Leadership requires action. Now is the time to stand up for the health and safety of our people. The June 3, 2016 train derailment in Mosier, Oregon, highlights the risks we all face every time an oil train travels through our communities and along our waterways. We applaud leaders for their calls to stop oil train traffic pending the completion of a full investigation, but even more can and should be done.
- June 6, 2016, Washington, DC: Oregon’s Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Governor Kate Brown and Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici released the following statement today calling for a temporary halt to oil train traffic in Columbia River Gorge in light of last Friday’s derailment of a Union Pacific oil train in Mosier, OR. Read release here.
- June 5, 2016, Mosier, Oregon: Despite the resolution, Union Pacific pushed the derailed and damaged cars, some full of oil, to the side of the tracks and started the rail. Brett VandenHeuvel, Columbia Riverkeeper gives an update on Sunday evening from Mosier:
- 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). UPDATE: E.coli samples came back low, within EPA's "safe" zone.
- 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. Thank you for everyone who joined us!
- June 3, 2016, Mosier, Oregon: Unit Train Stopped on the Union Pacific Tracks in Mosier Columbia River Gorge. There is a plume of black smoke and flames rising above the train. Mosier School has been evacuated. The train was carrying crude oil on the Union Pacific rail line through the town of Mosier. 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. "This a terrible situation. There is a large oil train fire in Mosier, in the Columbia River Gorge. We urge everyone to avoid the area to respect the work of the first responders," he said. 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.
- Interested in who regulates oil trains? Read our new FAQ here.
- This spring we released a report, “Crude-by-rail in Oregon: 2012–2016,” which describes oil train traffic in Oregon over the past four years and Oregon’s level of preparedness for a fire or explosion caused by an oil train derailment. Read it online today.