Local leaders gather in Mosier to discuss opposition against 'cr - KPTV - FOX 12

Local leaders gather in Mosier to discuss opposition against 'crude-by-rail'

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AIR 12 view of the tanker car fire last Friday. (KPTV) AIR 12 view of the tanker car fire last Friday. (KPTV)
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MOSIER, OR (KPTV) -

June 10 marks one week since a train derailed in Mosier, catching fire and spilling crude oil, and on Friday, the last of those derailed cars has been cleared.

With most of the mess cleaned up, the outcry against oil trains is now louder than ever.

On Friday, local leaders gather in Mosier as part of a growing coalition who all want oil traffic in the Northwest to stop.

"We are convinced there is no safe way to carry this volatile materials through our front yards, right by our schools," said Arlene Burns, Mayor of Mosier.

Mayor Burns said her town dodged a bullet.

Last Friday, 16 tanker cars full of crude oil derailed from a Union Pacific train. Four of the tanker cars caught fire.

Mayor Burns said Mosier could have been wiped off the map.

"There could been a domino effect explosion and the blast zone for one of these trains truly exploding is one mile radius, our town is a mile wide," said Mayor Burns.

That catastrophic potential was a reality in Quebec in 2013. A train carrying the same kind of crude oil derailed, killing 47 people and destroying much of the town center.

Local leaders fear their communities are running the same gamble, and eventually, luck will run out.

"This is railroad Russian roulette, it is not a matter of if it's going to happen, it's a matter of when it's going to happen," said Steve Lawrence, Mayor of The Dalles.

"I can't be reasonable about this issue. I need to protect the citizens of my town, their towns, our towns," said Paul Blackburn, Mayor of Hood River.

Mayor Lawrence and Mayor Blackburn also gathered in Mosier, calling for an emergency order to prohibit "crude-by-rail". They oppose new oil terminals, and any increase in oil transport through the Northwest.

A new oil terminal has been proposed in Vancouver, but City Council member Bart Hansen said it's time to take action.

"Let's talk about what we're actually going to do, the City of Vancouver on Monday is going to be talking about an all out ban on crude oil," said Hansen.

As the push for new policy gains momentum, oil trains roll through the Columbia River Gorge with many wondering how much more danger is down the line.

"We are threatened, at this point, of becoming a superhighway for fossil fuels and this is upon us," said Mayor Burns.

The clean-up in Mosier has entered a long-term phase. Crews will continue to remove and replace contaminated soil, and also repair the Mosier wastewater treatment plant, which was damaged and contaminated by the derailment.

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