Though both Washington and California call for rail companies to submit oil spill contingency plans, this is not yet a requirement in Oregon. Legislation was introduced in 2015, but the railway industry successfully lobbied against it. This could be changing. On Tuesday January 3, 2016, Oregon introduced legislation protecting communities against oil-by-rail spills.
Three weeks have passed since the oil train derailment at Mosier, on the Oregon side of the Columbia River. The giant Baker tanks, used to store raw sewage, have been removed from downtown. In an audio posted to the town’s website, Mayor Arlene Burns proclaims that the city is once again open for business. But according to Kristen McNall, a volunteer with Mosier Fire, they are still dealing with the accident’s repercussions. Today a preliminary Federal Railway Administration report confirmed that a maintenance failure caused the Mosier derailment
The lag bolts whose failure caused the recent oil-by-rail accident at Mosier were “relatively new.” According to Hal Gard, Administrator of the Oregon Department of Transportation’s Rail and Public Transit Division, “new rail was installed at this location in 2013.” In a newly surfaced email to the Federal Rail Administrator for Region 8, this Oregon transportation Officer calls for an oil train moratorium.
More details have emerged in the eight days since a 96-car Union Pacific train, carrying crude oil, derailed at Mosier, Oregon. A railway spokesman announced that the probable cause of this accident was that the lag bolts failed in a number of consecutive rail ties. Though four cars ruptured, only one actually caught fire. Local firefighters battled throughout the night and finally succeeded in suppressing the fire in the early hours of the next day. Mosier’s sewage treatment plant was damaged and is still inoperable but, thanks to the assistance of the neighbouring town of Hood River, all but two of Mosier’s homes once again have water and sewage. The surrounding communities demonstrated how this near catastrophe galvanizes opposition to oil by rail at two press events this week.