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Oil Train Derails Near Columbia River

Hood River News is reporting a multi-car oil train derailment at the town of Mosier near the Columbia River. Flames and smoke are visbile. Mosier School and 60-70 homes are under evacuation. I-84 has been shut down both directions. The Oregonian is also posting updates.

Mid-Columbia Fire and Rescue tweeted out this photo.

Reports say it is a Union Pacific train involving 11 cars filled with oil, with several burning. The train was carrying Bakken crude from North Dakota. It's unclear if any oil has spilled into the river.

Environmentalists have long predicted the possible disastrous effects of an oil train derailment near the Columbia River.

Sierra Club’s Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign Director Lena Moffitt released the following statement:

“The Sierra Club’s thoughts and prayers are with the train’s crew, their families, and the families of the communities affected by this disaster. “History has repeatedly shown just how deadly and dangerous oil train crashes can be. Simply put, transporting oil by rail -- or by any method -- is a disaster waiting to happen. The safety and wellbeing of our communities must be put ahead of profits for Big Oil.”

Sen. Ron Wyden has also issued a statement:

“It’s clear with this crash – as it has been for years – that more must be done to protect our communities from trains carrying explosive hazardous fuels. That’s why I’ve repeatedly called for more resources and notification for first responders, and why I’m continuing to push for my bill to move unsafe cars off the tracks and away from communities.”

Update: According to the latest press release from the Oregon Department of Transportation, 14 cars were involved, booms have been placed in the Columbia to contain the sheen of oil that can be seen in the river, no people or structures were harmed. 

The press release links to a Union Pacific website giving updates. It says the DOT-111 railcars had been upgraded to the higher CPC 1232 standard. 

Think-tank Sightline Institute says that higher standard is no safer than the older railcars.