"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, 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