A Union Pacific Train oil train derailed in Oregon’s Colombia River Gorge on Friday, igniting a fire that sent massive plumes of black smoke into the air forcing the closure of Interstate 84 near the town of Mosier, about 70 miles east of Portland.
A K-8 school, Mosier Community School, was evacuated, The Oregonian reported. No injuries have been reported.
This aerial shot from Portland’s KPTV shows the scattered train cars and flames:
A Twitter user, @DEREKHISER, shot this video:
Billowing smoke and heavy flames continue at 2:00pm in Mosier pic.twitter.com/XLOeR0pZPA
— Deke (@DEREKHISER) June 3, 2016
And here’s a close-up of the pileup on the tracks, courtesy of KOIN-TV of Portland:
A spokesman for Union Pacific, Justin Jacobs, quickly confirmed that the train belonged to his company – Union Pacific – but was unable to provide further details.
The transport of crude oil — particularly through residential and environmentally sensitive areas — has been a contentious issue in recent years, as increased U.S. shale-oil production has necessitated expanded use of an antiquated rail system. Last year the federal government implemented new safety rules in response to a series of disastrous derailments in the U.S. and Canada.
According to the investigative website Inside Climate News:
We found that regulators don’t have the resources to catch up with—let alone get ahead of—the risks posed by exploding oil trains. That has left the FRA politically outgunned by the railroad industry, leaving it largely to police itself.
The investigation further identified reasons why crashes were so prominent: Among them were lack of government inspectors of railroads; a lack of engineering standards for railroad bridges; discrepancies between state and local governments regarding tracks; and inadequate penalties for companies who fail to follow procedures.
We’ve written previously about the vast difference in damage — to people, buildings and the environment — when an oil train crashes, compared with when a trail filled with ethanol fuel crashes.
Read more about the subject:
- How should we transport oil, by pipeline or rail?
- Is Bakken crude more volatile than other types of oil?
- Rail companies often keep oil-train routes secret
- CA lawmaker wants oil trains banned from ‘treacherous’ passes