Zenith Updates

Portland Sounds Alarm on Tar Sands Trains

Portland Sounds Alarm on Tar Sands Trains

This month, two high-profile news stories highlighted the growing risk of heavy oil trains moving through Portland. Both the Oregonian and OPB wrote hard-hitting pieces that feature Columbia Riverkeeper. The stories reveal several alarming conclusions:

Rail routes through Portland. Source: Multnomah County Oil Train Briefing.
Rail routes through Portland. Source: Multnomah County Oil Train Briefing.
  • A company called Zenith Energy Management wants to expand its ability to ship tar sands crude through a terminal located in northwest Portland using permits obtained years before Portland passed its landmark fossil fuel ordinance.
  • Tar sands trains threaten Portland neighborhoods and other rail communities. According to a Multnomah County report from 2016, oil train shipments pose serious environmental justice concerns and travel in close proximity to local schools and other vulnerable populations.
  • Tar sands shipments include a variety of toxic chemicals, including hydrogen sulfide - a toxin that poses severe health risks in the case of a spill or fire.
  • City and state regulators are struggling to find ways to rein in these shipments. In fact, Oregon’s environmental regulators were unaware of the tar sands shipments before they began in 2018.
  • A second company, Global Partners, also wants to expand tar sands shipments to its facility at Port Westward, near Clatskanie, OR. Taken together, the Zenith and Global Partners facilities could bring several oil trains per week along the Columbia River and through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area and Portland Metro area.

Riverkeeper is joining with our partner groups in the Stand Up to Oil campaign and activist organizations in Portland to educate our neighbors about the threat from Zenith. And we need your help to push the City of Portland to take stronger action to halt the expansion of Zenith’s tar sands terminal.

Take Action

1.  Sign Riverkeeper’s petition to the City of Portland and share it with others.

2.  Write a letter to the Editor calling on the City of Portland to halt Zenith’s reckless oil train plans. Limit your letter to 250 words, and send it to letters@oregonian.com.

3.  Join us at a public information forum:

What: Community Forum: Zenith's Tar Sands Oil Expansion. Join us for the 3rd in a series of community forums about Zenith Energy's expanded operations. 
Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Time: Tabling at 6:30, Forum at 7 p.m.
Location: Havurah Shalom. 825 NW 18th, Portland, OR, 97209