Friday, June 24, 2016

FRA places blame while DNR urges rejection of Tesoro

Union Pacific crews work Sunday, June 5, 2016, to get oil out of rail cars after Friday's derailment near Mosier. (Carli Brosseau/staff)

Feds blame railroad for fiery oil train derailment in gorge

Advanced electronic brakes proposed by regulators could have made the derailment less severe, Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg said. The brakes could have reduced the number of cars that went off the tracks and prevented the one that first burst into flames from being punctured, officials said.
"We're talking about upgrading a brake system that is from the Civil War era," Feinberg said. "It's not too much to ask these companies to improve their braking systems in the event of an accident so fewer cars are derailing."
"When they said those sheared lag bolts, that was the hint that said they really need to look in the direction of these other aspects," Ditmeyer told the AP. 
"These are heavy cars when they're fully loaded," and a treatment to reduce the volatility of the Bakken crude makes the oil heavier, he said.
The Oregon Department of Transportation last week asked federal rail authorities for a moratorium on oil trains in the Columbia River Gorge after also expressing concerns that the weight of the oil trains might be too much for the tracks.
The company defended its decision in a statement, reiterating the federal obligations it is under and highlighting the tiny fraction of its Oregon shipments — less than 1 percent — that come from oil trains.
In addition to state transportation officials, Multnomah County and several municipalities including Portland and Mosier have called on Congress and the White House for bans on oil being moved by rail, which is under the federal government's authority.
oil train.JPG
An oil train moves on the overpass next to a proposed waterfront redevelopment project in Vancouver, Washington. The Department of Natural Resources urged a state energy panel to advise against a proposed $210 million oil-by-rail terminal project, according to a brief filed ahead of hearings that begin Monday. The city of Vancouver also filed a brief stating its opposition to the project.. (Rob Davis/The Oregonian.OregonLive/2014) (Rob Davis/The Oregonian.OregonLive)
Washington agency wants Vancouver oil terminal plan shelved, citing fire risks
SEATTLE — A state agency in charge of protecting millions of acres of state land from wildfires is opposing a proposal to build an oil-by-rail terminal in Vancouver, citing risks of blazes from increased train traffic and other concerns.
The Department of Natural Resources urged a state energy panel to recommend that the $210 million project be rejected, according to a brief filed ahead of hearings that begin Monday.
The Department of Natural Resources said that based on the evidence, the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council cannot meet its obligations to assure the public that there are adequate safeguards and that the project will have minimal environmental impacts.
The council, which oversees the siting and permitting of large energy projects, will make a recommendation to Gov. Jay Inslee, who has the final say.
 Meanwhile, new Coal regulations are being drawn up. 

Rally Shows the Feds How Seattle Feels About Coal

Not too many coal supporters at this public hearing.
Activists, tribespeople, fishermen, politicians, and even a representative from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin turned up to take the stage at Westlake Park Tuesday morning — all to give the decades-long federal coal leasing program the middle finger, more or less.
“I come from upstream,” Bob LeResche, chairman of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, in Sheridan, Wyoming, told the eager crowd, “And I want to welcome you to our 40-year fight.”
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) currently leases 570 million acres of public land to coal companies — often atbargain basement prices — and the process for how that’s done hasn’t been touched for over 30 years. Many people, from scrappy environmental groups to the U.S. Department of the Interior, have long criticized the program as shortchanging the American public by vastly underestimating the market value of the coal. Now, that’s shifting: In January, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel launched a three-year process for revamping the system, starting with a moratorium on new coal leases until we get a new process figured out. Among her stipulations: Americans should get more bang for their buck on this, and so should the climate.
“We have an obligation to current and future generations to ensure the federal coal program delivers a fair return to American taxpayers,” she said in a January statement, “and takes into account its impacts on climate change.”
Perhaps, then, to throw a bone to the environmental movement (i.e. by making sure not every public hearing about the federal coal leasing program is held in coal country) the BLM held a six-hour-long public forum at the downtown Seattle Sheraton on Tuesday — one of just six hearings like it in the nation.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Fire Fighters send letter to Gov. Inslee

Affiliated withAFL-CIO
International  Association  of Fire Fighters

Washington State Labor Council
June 8, 2016

The Honorable Jay Inslee Washington  State Governor
P.O. Box 40002 Olympia, WA 98504

Dear Governor  Inslee:

Last Friday's oil train derailment and fire in Mosier, Oregon, is a stark reminder that first
responders, rail workers, communities, waterways and pristine lands remain in harm's way from
Bakken oil train traffic through  our  state.

The account given by firefighters of the Mosier response and by others who have responded to
similar incidents across North America make it clear these fires are exceedingly difficult to
extinguish, even under unusually ideal circumstances.  What happened  in Mosier could have just
as easily happened in a population  center like Spokane or Seattle, resulting in even greater 

You know our position on these matters. In June 2014, delegates at our statewide convention
called for an immediate halt to the movement of Bakken crude by rail until there has been a
determination that it is safe to transport. Clearly, given the Mosier incident, there has been no
such determination.

The upcoming summer fire season is shaping up to be another dry and dangerous one. Resources
will be stretched thin, and evidence keeps growing that there is no safe way to transport Bakken
crude. A derailment  and fire in dry wildfire  fuels with high winds could easily overwhelm 
available personnel and equipment in many parts of our state and grow into a conflagration of
immense proportions.

We urge you to make a request similar to Oregon Governor Brown's by asking the U.S.
Department of Transportation to use its authority to prohibit rail transport of Bakken crude
through our state until there has been a full investigation into the cause of the Mosier oil train

In additionplease consider the use of your executive authority to reject plans  for oil terminals   
now under review and ask your legal staff to investigate the proclamation of a state of emergency
under RCW 43
.06.220(l)(i), allowing you to prohibit the continued rail transportation of this
dangerous fuel.

We appreciate the efforts you have made to date on this subject and stand ready to meet with
you, as do other members of our Solidarity Roundtable on Oil, to work toward solutions to this
on-going  environmental  and community crisis.


Dennis  Lawson, President.
Washington  State Council of Fire Fighters

Dennis J. Lawson, President • Greg B. Markley, Secretary-Treasurer
1069 Adams Street Southeast, Olympia, WA 98501  1-800-572-5762  (360) 943-3030
Fax (360) 943-2333 
 E-mail:  Website:

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

(Some) Oil Trains Temporarily Halted in Mosier

The Associated Press
Mosier Fire Chief Jim Appleton points to where a Union Pacific train carrying crude oil derailed last Friday, prompting a fire and evacuations from the tiny Columbia River Gorge town about 70 miles east of Portland, on Monday, June 6, 2016, in Mosier, Ore. Union Pacific resumed train service on Sunday but said it would not allow tankers carrying oil on the tracks anytime soon. (AP Photo/Gillian Flaccus)THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Anger as trains resume after Oregon derailment, fire

Local politicians and residents of Mosier, Oregon, are reacting with shock and anger Monday as Union Pacific runs its trains through this tiny town again

US News & World Report June 6, 2016, at 10:10 p.m.
MOSIER, Ore. (AP) — Local politicians and residents reacted with shock and anger Monday as Union Pacific began running trains through this tiny Columbia River Gorge town just three days after a fiery derailment forced residents to evacuate and water and sewage systems to shut down.
"This is all about money. They're willing to risk us blowing up again for their money to keep coming in," said Loretta Scheler, who rents out a two-story building just a few hundred feet from the tracks. "It's just insane."

"The federal government, the railroad and oil companies need to protect us," said Paul Blackburn, mayor of Hood River, a city about 7 miles west of Mosier.
Hood River passed a resolution in 2014 opposing the transportation of crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge either by rail or by barge.

Union Pacific temporarily halting oil trains in Columbia River Gorge after fiery wreck

With damaged tank cars still lying near to the tracks in Mosier, the site of Friday's fiery oil train derailment, Union Pacific said Monday it would temporarily suspend moving oil trains through the Columbia River Gorge.
"We do not intend to run crude oil unit trains and will inform the community of when we intend to resume operations," said Justin Jacobs, a Union Pacific spokesman.
The company's announcement leaves open the possibility that crude oil will continue moving in what are called mixed-manifest trains – those that haul a few tank cars of oil interspersed with other commodities. A "unit train" of oil, the wording the railroad used in describing the shipments it was temporarily halting, carries only crude.Trains began moving anyway, just more than 48 hours after the wreck.  
Mosier Mayor Arlene Burns said she was thrilled the governor and Oregon's federal leaders had listened to the city's plea. But she said city leaders believe it's irresponsible for Union Pacific to move any train next to damaged oil tank cars.
Some Mosier residents remain under a level two evacuation order, she said, meaning they need to be ready to leave their homes at a moment's notice. How can the area be safe for train traffic, she asked, if it's not for residents?
"We feel it's still unsafe for trains of any kind to come through the area when these oil bombs are sitting on our front steps," Burns said.
Burns said the damaged tank cars appear to be dripping oil. "A spark from the train could catch that on fire again," she said. "It still is way too soon to be taking trains through."

Our friends at 1267 Watch have put together an impressive list of the links covering the UP Derailment and explosion in Mosier.
1267 Watch Special - Columbia River Gorge derailment:




Sunday, June 5, 2016

News from Mosier

Sewers shut off, water aquifers dry as Mosier deals with oil train derailment aftermath

By Casey Parks | The Oregonian/OregonLive
The town's sewer system remains shut off. And the aquifers are dry, leaving the city's 430 residents without water reserves on a day projected to hit record high temperatures.
Burns said she's hopeful crews can work up temporary fixes Sunday, but Mosier won't return to normal any time soon.
"If this isn't solved," she said, "we'll all have to move somewhere else."
Burns and public safety officials began warning residents Saturday not to flush their toilets.
City of Mosier, Small Enough to Make a Difference!
The City of Mosier has issued a press release.
Union Pacific Says It Plans to Restart Train Traffic Through Mosier Before Oil is Removed from Derailed Rail Cars Along Track:

City of Mosier Passes Emergency Motion Calling on UPRR to Remove All Oil from Damaged Cars Before Traffic Reopened

The City of Mosier held an emergency meeting this afternoon and passed a motion objecting to Union Pacific’s plans to restart train traffic while derailed oil cars, many still full of oil, sit just feet
from the tracks in severely damaged condition. The City is calling on Union Pacific, as well as Gov. Kate Brown andOregon’s Congressional delegation to:

1. Remove all oil from derailed cars prior to starting any train traffic in light of the risk of igniting the damaged oil train cars;
2. Complete the investigation determining what went wrong and have it fixed before any oil train or other high risk train traffic resumes.

“The City of Mosier strongly objects to Union Pacific’s plans to restart running trains, including oil trains, as early as tonight through the derailment site where damaged oil tankers
continue to sit feet from newly laid railroad track,” says Arlene Burns, Mayor, City of Mosier. “Restarting trains before the high-risk carnage of their last accident is even cleared from the
tracks is telling Mosier they are going to play a second round of Russian roulette without our town -it’s totally unacceptable.”

“Everyone wants to see train traffic restarted, but we are very concerned about the safety of our town. 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 rail tankers just feet away from the proposed new active track,” says Mosier City Council President Emily Reed. “They do not yet know what happened in this section of track to cause the accident on Friday so on what basis can they safely re-start running oil trains down this same section of track? This is literally hundreds of feet from our homes and school.”

Mosier, Ore., moves to halt traffic on rail line after derailment

via Seattle Times, Mike Carter and Daniel Gilbert
Union Pacific Railroad says it appears some sort of track failure caused the derailment of 16 oil tanker cars near Mosier, Ore., causing the fire and oil spill.Officials in Mosier, Ore., are objecting to Union Pacific’s decision to restart train traffic after a fiery oil-car derailment Friday prompted an evacuation and disrupted the town’s sewage and water systems.
Arlene Burns, Mosier’s mayor, said that the City Council passed a resolution Sunday calling for Union Pacific to halt train traffic until the derailed cars are removed and the investigation into the incident is complete. The company resumed running trains Sunday evening.
“We just think it’s way too soon for them to resume business as usual,” Burns said in an interview. “It seems utterly unreasonable.”
Justin Jacobs, a spokesman for Union Pacific, said the company had repaired the track and would continue to inspect it through the night. “We’re absolutely aware of the concern, and we’ll continue to work with the city,” he said, adding that trains are running at reduced speeds of 10 mph through Mosier as a precaution.

Oil train derails, catches fire in Columbia River GorgeOregon officials said Sunday night that an evacuation order had been lifted for Mosier residents, and the city’s wastewater treatment plant was operating after the removal of 10,000 gallons of oil. Residents can flush toilets but are still being asked to boil water for drinking.Earlier Sunday, Greg Svelund, a spokesman with the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), said that “Investigators had discovered that the Mosier wastewater- treatment plant and sewer lines were nonoperational as a result of damage from the train derailment.”
Oregon environmental officials think they’ve contained oil that was leaking into the Columbia River from the derailed cars.
Sixteen tank cars, part of a 96-car train operated by Union Pacific railroad, derailed Friday. Four of the cars erupted in flames and burned until Saturday morning. A small quantity of oil leaked into the Columbia River, but that has been contained by booms, officials said Sunday.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Mosier really dodged a bullet & Mosier Fire Chief Calls Crude Oil By Rail "Insane"

The Route 30 Ice Cream / Coffee Shop had to close on Saturday due to the inability to run water after the nearby oil train derailment the day before. Owner Nelly Demosthenes said she's lost about $2000 in business Friday and Saturday combined. Dave Killen / The Oregonian
"Mosier really dodged a bullet": Gorge derailment highlights oil train dangers
Eight-hundred feet in either direction, and Friday's oil train derailment outside the small Columbia River Gorge city of Mosier might've sent flaming tank cars into a lake in a National Scenic Area.
A half-mile east, and the inferno would've burned a few feet beneath a block of modular homes. Another mile-and-a-half, and leaking tank cars would've landed on the bank of the Columbia River during peak spring chinook salmon migration.
Seven miles west, and flames would've licked the back of the Full Sail Brewing Co. in Hood River.

Eric de Place, policy director at the Sightline Institute, a progressive Seattle think tank, agreed the region was lucky with the Mosier derailment. But with oil train wrecks continuing to send up sky-high fireballs, there's no reason to expect such a stroke of luck the next time, he said.
"We're playing Russian roulette," de Place said. "I think the industry is perfectly willing to put a gun to our heads and risk our lives for the sake of making money. It is abundantly clear this enterprise is unsafe, unsustainable and they don't know how to manage it."
De Place spoke as he drove Saturday morning through Seattle with his 7-year-old son. He said he was in a "blind rage" about the fiery crash in Mosier. "It's appalling that we're allowing this to continue," he said.
His son interrupted him to point something out, and de Place paused.
They'd just driven past what looked like an oil train.

Mosier Fire Chief Calls Shipping Bakken Crude Oil By Rail "Insane"

Jim Appleton, Mosier fire chief, speaks Saturday, June 4, 2016, following the derailment of an oil train in his town near Hood River Friday.
Jim Appleton, Mosier fire chief, speaks Saturday, June 4, 2016, following the derailment of an oil train in his town near Hood River Friday.
Amelia Templeton/OPB

Jim Appleton, the fire chief in Mosier, Ore., said in the past, he’s tried to reassure his town that the Union Pacific Railroad has a great safety record and that rail accidents are rare.
He’s changed his mind.After a long night working with hazardous material teams and firefighters from across the Northwest to extinguish a fire that started when a train carrying Bakken crude derailed in his town, Appleton no longer believes shipping oil by rail is safe.“I hope that this becomes death knell for this mode of shipping this cargo. I think it’s insane,” he said. “I’ve been very hesitant to take a side up to now, but with this incident, and with all due respect to the wonderful people that I’ve met at Union Pacific, shareholder value doesn’t outweigh the lives and happiness of our community.”

Friends of the Columbia Gorge held a rally today in Mosier 
We had a successful rally today in Hood River despite the very, very short notice and high heat, about 100 F. Around 15 people came early to paint signs and about 100 people attended the rally.  Media was plentiful for once! Three Portland TV stations and Hood River News covered the event, there were numerous interviews. Those that gave presentations all had messages that were very consistent around stopping all oil by rail in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Photos of the rally:
Emily Reed, Mosier City Council President, gave moving remarks. Her son was evacuated from Mosier School and her husband is a volunteer firefighter who worked the fire.


Gett’en it done, cleaning up after the rally
Dan Serres, Columbia Riverkeeper and Peter Cornelison, Friends of the Columbia Gorge

Friday, June 3, 2016

Derailments and Disasters

Rail Cars derail in Central Park
The Daily World, Doug Barker
A train carrying grain to the Port of Grays Harbor derailed Tuesday afternoon in the Central Park area. There were no injuries and the train wasn’t in the immediate area of homes.
Thursday afternoon, workers were hauling rock to the site so that equipment could be brought in to lift the cars, said Josh Connell, general manager of the Puget Sound & Pacific Railroad. Eight of the 100 cars in the train derailed, he said, with six on their sides and two still standing. The site, which is about a half mile south of Central Park Drive and two miles east of the Grays Harbor Country Club, is not accessible by road and rail officials would not allow the press to walk on the rail right of way to reach the scene, saying it was dangerous while crews were working.
Connell said they expect to have track open sometime Sunday.
The posted train speed on that stretch of tracks is 20 mph and the train was travelling 17 mph when it derailed, he said. “There was no human error, the crew was doing what it was supposed to be doing according to our procedures,” he said.
Connell said cars used to inspect the condition of the track had been through the area recently, and the ties were replaced in that area in 2014. Once the cars are lifted off the track, the company will inspect the track and that might help determine the cause, he said.
The last derailment on the line was in December, caused by two teenagers playing “chicken” at rail crossings in Montesano.
There were 10 loaded grain cars at the tail end of the train that were not affected by the derailment. The 80-some cars to west of the derailment were taken to the Port and unloaded, Connell said.
Connell said rail officials immediately notified state officials, who notified federal officials. There was no issue of hazardous materials being spilled, he said.

Oregon train derailment spills oil, sparks fire

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An oil train has derailed near the Columbia River Gorge town of Mosier.
Aaron Hunt with Union Pacific Railroad says 11 of the cars derailed. Oil spilled from at least one car and caught fire. It is still burning.
The 96-car train was carrying Bakken crude oil to Tacoma, from Eastport, Idaho. Bakken crude is known for being highly volatile.

An aerial view of the smoke and fire from an oil train derailment in Mosier in the Columbia River Gorge, June 3, 2016 (KOIN)
An aerial view of the smoke and fire from an oil train derailment in Mosier in the Columbia River Gorge, June 3, 2016 (KOIN)

A train that size weighs 13,000 tons and is 6,200 feet long, according to sources. No one was injured.
Silas Bleakley was working at his restaurant in Mosier when the train derailed.
“You could feel it through the ground. It was more of a feeling than a noise,” he said as smoke continued to billow from the tankers.
Bleakley said he went outside, saw the smoke and got in his truck and drove about 2,000 feet to a bridge that crosses the railroad tracks. There, he said he saw tanker cars “accordioned” across the tracks.

More links:
KOMO News: 
Oil train derailment, fire in Columbia Gorge evacuates Mosier schools; I-84 shut down

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Shared Waters, Shared Values

The Quinault Indian Nation invites everyone to come to Hoquiam for a March on City Hall and Rally.

Quinault Indian Tribe is organizing a demonstration and rally in Grays Harbor on Friday, July 8 opposing the crude oil terminal at the port. They would appreciate it if a 1000 people showed up for that day. Things are just getting worked out but they've opened it to other tribes and their canoe families - come one, come all to stand with Quinault and show solidarity.

You can RSVP at Stand Up To Oil's action link.

Boats can enter the water at the 28th Street Landing and paddle over to the new dock at 9th Street, to come ashore at 1:30pm. Be sure to stay for the traditional Seafood dinner and tee-shirt!

This is, of course, the driving map. Google doesn't show canoeing directions.