Oregon town lifts water restrictions as derailment cleanup continues

An Oregon community ended water use restrictions as cleanup continued of an estimated 1,000 bbl of Bakken crude that leaked from tank cars of a Union Pacific train that derailed on June 3 (OGJ Online, June 5, 2016). But the Mosier City Council and the town’s mayor objected on June 6 to the railroad’s plans to resume running trains along the affected track before the accident’s investigation and the cleanup are complete.

“Restarting trains before the high-risk carnage of their last accident is even cleared is telling Mosier they’re going to play a second round of Russian roulette…. It’s totally unacceptable,” Mayor Arlene Burns said.

“Everyone wants to see train traffic restarted, but we are very concerned about the safety of our town,” added Mosier City Council Pres. Emily Reed. “The new tracks will be no safer than before the derailment, and now we have tens of thousands of gallons of oil sitting in damaged tankers just feet away from the proposed new active tank.”

A UP spokesman confirmed that freight trains are running again along new track where the accident occurred, but at a 10 mph speed limit. None carrying crude oil will use the stretch until the cleanup and investigation are concluded, he told OGJ on June 7.

More than half the crude in the derailed cars had been loaded onto tanker trucks by that morning for transfer to The Dalles, Wasco County’s seat, where it will be staged for rail transportation to Tacoma, Wash., its original destination, the derailment’s unified command said in a June 7 update.

“Union Pacific has identified a preliminary cause of the crash, saying a bolt that fastens the rail to the railroad ties may have been at fault,” it added. “But the final determination of the cause has not been made.”

An estimated 10,000 gal of crude was removed from Mosier’s wastewater system following the derailment, with the remaining 32,000 gal either burned off and vaporized, captured by booms in the Columbia River, or absorbed by soil, the unified command said.

“Booms remain in place as a precautionary measure but no new signs of oil sheen have been seen on the river or other waterways. Environmental crews believe the source of the sheen has been controlled,” it said.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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