Oil Trains

Associated Press / AP Images

Transporting crude oil is controversial. The Northwest has seen a number of efforts to put a halt on oil trains carrying Bakken crude from the heartland to the coast.

Washington gubernatorial candidates touched on the topic of oil trains during their first debate of the season in Spokane Wednesday.

Zack W / Flickr

On a near-daily basis, oil trains pass through the heart of Spokane past two major hospitals, a handful of schools and across an aquifer that serves nearly half a million people.

Oil that spilled from a derailed train in the Columbia River Gorge in June contaminated nearby groundwater. Starting in the next week, Union Pacific Railroad will be working with Oregon’s Department of Environmental Quality to clean it up.

Ted S. Warren

Washington’s Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Friday he’s opposed to a proposal for the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver. He’s the highest ranking state official to come out against the project.

In a statement, Ferguson says protecting the environment and public safety are his top priorities. He says the potential benefits of the oil terminal in southwest Washington outweigh the risks and costs of a spill.

The Vancouver Energy Project is currently in a trial-like phase of the permitting process before Washington’s energy council.

Travis Wise / Flickr

A review of a proposed oil terminal in Vancouver wraps up Friday with a public hearing.

Spokane’s City Council Monday voted on a November ballot initiative that would make the shipment of oil or coal by rail through the city a civil infraction. If it passes, every rail car carrying oil or uncovered coal will generate a $261 fine.

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.

21 Arrested In Vancouver Oil Train Protest

Jun 20, 2016
Coast Guard PFC Levi Read / Wikimedia Commons

Police arrested 19 people who refused to leave the BNSF railroad tracks in Vancouver on Saturday. They were protesting oil train service in the Northwest after a train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed in the Columbia River Gorge derailed two weeks ago.

Conrad Wilson / Oregon Public Broadcasting

The Federal Railroad Administration says it’s still investigating this month’s oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge.

Federal officials say they’ve received Oregon’s request for a moratorium on oil trains, but haven’t yet indicated whether they’ll grant it. Oregon made its request a week and a half ago.

Coast Guard PFC Levi Read / Wikimedia Commons

The Oregon Department of Transportation wants the federal government to stop large oil trains from running through the Columbia River Gorge.

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.

Following Friday’s derailment in the Columbia Gorge, environmental groups are petitioning the Obama administration to ban rail transport of the most flammable kind of crude oil. And Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden said on the floor of the U.S. Senate Tuesday that it was clear that Oregon got lucky -- this time.

Emily Schwing / Northwest News Network

Residents of Mosier, Oregon were told Sunday night they can return to their homes.

An oil train that derailed and caught fire forced more than 100 to evacuate last week. Just over 400 people live in the sleepy town surrounded by cherry orchards and basalt cliffs.

Conrad Wilson / Oregon Public Broadcasting

Officials with Union Pacific says its findings are preliminary.

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.

Black smoke billowed high into the sky above Interstate 84 Friday afternoon after 11 oil train cars derailed near Mosier, Oregon. At least one of the derailed cars spilled oil and caught fire.

The oil train fire in the Columbia Gorge is the first one since Oregon lawmakers approved funding for a hazardous materials incidents plan last year.

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.

Michael Werner / EarthFix

A Puget Sound tribe filed a lawsuit Tuesday in federal court to stop oil trains from traveling through its reservation north of Seattle.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway’s train tracks cross the top of the Swinomish Reservation in Skagit County. In recent years they’ve been used to move oil from North Dakota to two refineries in Anacortes.

In 1990 BNSF and the Swinomish reached a settlement that required the railroad to regularly update the tribe on the type of cargo moving through the reservation. It also limited traffic to two 25-car trains per day.

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.

Tony Schick / EarthFix

This week’s fiery oil train derailment in West Virginia has lawmakers thinking about oil-by-rail safety through the Northwest. There has been a dramatic increase in oil trains traveling through the region to reach West coast refineries.

3,000 Rail Crossings In Washington Go Un-Inspected

Oct 29, 2014
U.S. Department of Transportation / Northwest News Network

Washington’s rail safety regulator says there are about 3,000 rail crossings in the state that inspectors have never looked at. That's because they're on private land. And experts say these could be problem areas as more trains carry crude oil through the state. They plan to ask the legislature for more authority.

A state study on oil transport through Washington finds that the amount of crude oil shipped from North Dakota could triple in the next five years. In two decades, more than 16 trains carrying oil could cross the state every day.

Michael Berry / Flickr

Gov. Jay Inslee says more needs to be done to prevent and respond to oil spills, as more trains move volatile shipments of crude oil through Washington state.

The governor received initial findings from a state study today , looking into the safety and environmental risks of oil transport.

Inslee called the report "sobering".

Katie Campbell / EarthFix

More oil trains traveling along the Columbia River and Puget Sound mean an increased risk for oil spills. Conservation groups worry methods to clean up those spills could harm sensitive wildlife.

Oregon Approves Subsidy For Oil Transport, Not Coal

Aug 22, 2014
McD22 / Flickr

The Oregon Transportation Commission voted Friday to deny funding for controversial coal exports but approved subsidies that will allow more oil trains to travel along the Columbia River.

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