Hearing Starts Monday On Vancouver Oil Terminal

Jun 24, 2016

Washington state begins its public review today (MON) of what would be the nation’s largest oil by rail terminal in the country. As OPB's Conrad Wilson reports, the hearings are one of the final steps in determining whether the project gets built.

Bruce Fingerhood / Flickr

The Federal Railroad Administration says Union Pacific’s failure to maintain its track and equipment caused this month’s oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge.

Sam Beebe / Flickr

Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkely are asking federal railroad officials to use their authority and place a moratorium on crude oil moving through the Columbia River Gorge. The railroad involved with this month’s oil train derailment has said those trains will resume this week.

Edward Kimmel / Flickr

Washington U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell is pushing for stricter rules on oil trains after last week's fiery derailment in Mosier, Oregon.

U.S. Geological Survey / Flickr

The oil train spill in Mosier, Oregon was the latest of about 20 oil train derailments in the U.S. since 2013.That's according to the group Earth Justice. One Washington lawmaker says there's one way to limit the danger of derailments or oil spills in this state: build an oil pipeline.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants oil trains to slow down and safety improvements to speed up. Inslee said Wednesday that he personally delivered that message to the CEO of Union Pacific and the executive chairman of BNSF over the last 48 hours.

Friday’s oil train derailment and fire comes as Washington state prepares to put new oil shipment safety rules into effect. In fact, the derailment in the Columbia Gorge happened just as the first public hearing on those rules was wrapping up in Vancouver, Washington.

Washington Department of Ecology / ASSOCIATED PRESS

Crews worked through the weekend to offload oil from tanker cars and remove damaged train cars by flatbed trucks following Friday’s train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge. The water treatment and sewer system in Mosier was damaged as a result of the accident.

Oil Train Derails Near Hood River

Jun 3, 2016
Silas Bleakley via AP

Eleven oil train cars derailed Friday afternoon near Hood River, sparking a large fire and forcing a nearby school to evacuate.

Matt Brown

Washington state officials are holding a public hearing Friday in Vancouver on new rules targeting oil train safety.

One proposed rule would require trains carrying refined or crude oil to submit spill response plans that the state would approve.

Another proposed rule would make oil terminals and refineries alert the state that they plan to receive crude oil. Right now, companies that move oil by rail aren’t required to share that information with state officials.

Port of Vancouver USA / OPB

The Port of Vancouver recommended Wednesday port commissioners vote against a lease extension with the companies backing what would be the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal. Those companies need the extra time to get state permits.

Port Of Longview Rejects Oil Refinery

Feb 23, 2016
Allison Frost/OPB

Port of Longview commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to end talks with an energy company that wants to build the first oil refinery on the west coast in more than 25 years.

Google Images

Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling rig, the Polar Pioneer, is expected to arrive Friday in Port Angeles, Washington.

Shell has just received the necessary federal permits to drill for oil in the Arctic and will be staging its fleet in Seattle, despite a lawsuit filed by environmental groups and an investigation launched by the Seattle City Council.

Activists have warned of a flotilla of kayaks that would extend a less-than-warm welcome to Shell when it arrives at the Port of Seattle.

Refinery Proposed For Columbia River

Apr 15, 2015
Google Images


The Port of Longview has been in talks with an energy company about building a crude oil refinery in southwest Washington.

Washington’s Port of Longview says it is in talks with an energy company that last year submitted plans for a crude oil refinery on the Columbia River.

Details of the company’s planned refinery surfaced Wednesday through public records obtained and released by Columbia Riverkeeper.

'Small' Oil Spills Can Add Up To Big Costs

Mar 19, 2015
Rowan Moore Gerety / Northwest News Network

Northwest Officials Unite Against Coal And Oil Trains

Mar 4, 2015
U.S. Department of Transportation

More than 150 elected officials from across the Northwest have teamed up to speak out against coal and oil trains. Their new group, the Safe Energy Leadership Alliance, held its third meeting in Portland Tuesday.

Washington’s King County Executive Dow Constantine has stepped up to chair the group. It includes officials from Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.

AP Images

Northwest lawmakers voted along party lines as the U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to reject a plan to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline. Fourteen Democrats voted with all 45 Republicans in the Senate to approve it. But it was one vote shy of the amount needed to send the measure to the President. Washington Democrat Patty Murray told her colleagues she was against the pipeline.

Austin Jenkins / Northwest News Network

Astroturfing is when interest groups run a campaign that’s designed to look like it’s grassroots in nature. A document obtained by public radio shows the oil industry is at the center of more than a dozen Astroturf groups in Washington, Oregon, and California.

Report Raises Safety Concerns About Oil By Water

Aug 7, 2014
Kill van Kull / Flickr

Many communities across the Northwest are worried about the safety risks of shipping crude oil by rail. But a new report raises safety concerns about another shipping method: Oil by water. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.

Hugh Llewelyn / Flickr

A new poll shows the majority of Northwest residents support oil transportation by rail and don't think the safety and environmental risks are too high.

Kristen Steele / Flickr

This year Americans will see the highest Fourth of July gas prices they've seen in the last six years. That's according to AAA . And as bad as it sounds, for Northwest drivers it even gets a little worse.

Central Oregon Grapples With Rising Oil Train Safety Risks

May 20, 2014
Friends of the Gorge

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden will meet with emergency officials in Central Oregon this week to talk about oil train safety. For EarthFix, Cassandra Profita reports.

ahhyeah / Flickr

There are millions of gallons of oil moving by train through the Northwest.

Most of them are traveling from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota, to several refineries along Puget Sound.

Megaloads Opponents Seek More Public Input

Apr 4, 2014
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

The latest dispute over whether huge megaload trucks should be allowed on Northwest roads is currently in Oregon. Opponents of the massive big-rigs are taking their objections to court.

Wyden and Merkley Take Railroad Companies To Task

Jan 27, 2014

At a meeting with emergency responders in Portland Friday, U.S. senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley asked railroad companies to address growing concerns about oil train safety.

Lawmakers in Olympia Wednesday held a hearing on a new bill concerning oil transport. More oil is moving into terminals and refineries in the state from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. That has politicians calling for oil companies to be more transparent.

Citizens Turned Out To Learn About Vancouver Oil Project

Oct 1, 2013

About a hundred people attended a community meeting Monday night hosted by the companies proposing to build a train-to-ship oil terminal in Vancouver, Washington.

Port of Vancouver Approves Biggest Oil-Train Project In NW

Jul 23, 2013
Port of Vancouver USA

The Port of Vancouver Commission voted unanimously to approve a lease for a controversial oil terminal. Two companies have proposed building a terminal at the port that could one day move up to 380,000 barrels of crude oil a day from trains to ships on the Columbia River.

There are now 15 confirmed deaths in the oil train explosion that rocked a small town in Quebec Province over the weekend.

The tragedy has given the commissioners of the Port of Vancouver in Washington pause as they consider a proposal for a terminal to move oil from trains onto ships. Ashley Ahearn reports.

Oil companies still may find a way to move huge, so-called “megaloads” through a scenic corridor in Idaho, once traveled by Lewis and Clark. But for now at least, opponents of the extra-large shipments are hoping government red tape has closed that option.