Train carrying crude oil derails in Oregon

A Union Pacific freight train derailed in Oregon on June 3, overturning 14 tank cars carrying Bakken crude oil and forcing Wasco County authorities to evacuate a nearby town in the upper Columbia River Gorge.

Initial reports indicated that oil leaked from at least one of the upended cars in the town of Mosier. Four of them caught fire, which first responders finally extinguished at 2:05 a.m. PDT the following day, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) said.

The incident led to the closure of nearby Interstate 84 for several hours. Investigators also discovered that it also had made Mosier’s water treatment plant and sewer lines nonoperational. A boil water order was issued for the community as a precautionary measure in the event an untested well was used to suppress the fire, ODOT said. Other water use restrictions were imposed.

The 96-car train apparently originated in Eastport, Ida., and was bound for Tacoma, Wash. ODOT said federal, state, tribal and local authorities established a command center near the scene to coordinate response, cleanup, and investigation into what happened. A community meeting was scheduled for the evening of June 5 to answer residents’ questions.

Water and air monitoring began immediately, the state agency said. About 1,000 ft of containment boom were deployed early the morning of June 4 after a light sheen of oil was observed in the Columbia River about 6 ft offshore from the mouth of Rock Creek. Crews worked through the day to control and contain the sheen.

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

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