Local leaders urge Gov. Brown to ban oil-by-rail in Oregon - KPTV - FOX 12

Local leaders urge Gov. Brown to ban oil-by-rail in Oregon

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Area leaders, including Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury met at City Hall in Portland to urge Gov. Brown to ban oil-by-rail in Oregon. (KPTV) Area leaders, including Portland Mayor Charlie Hales and Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury met at City Hall in Portland to urge Gov. Brown to ban oil-by-rail in Oregon. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Local leaders met at City Hall in Portland Tuesday to call on Governor Kate Brown to work for a permanent ban when it comes to moving oil by rail, less than two weeks after a derailment in Mosier.

Flames and smoke billowed high into the sky after a 96-car Union Pacific oil train derailed and caught fire, and the image of the train full of crude oil derailed and on fire is so terrifying that Mosier Fire Chief Jim Appleton said he will never forget it.

Appleton said his town got lucky, and that if it had been any windier on that June day, Mosier would be no more.

“No harm to Union Pacific. They had their perfect day and this still happened, and that's why there has to be a total ban on oil trains,” he said. “That's the only thing I'm going to accept.”

The train was headed for Tacoma, but was slated to travel through Portland. Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said that if the train derailed in downtown, hundreds could have died.

“More than 25 percent of Multnomah County’s population lives within a half mile of the rail lines that are used by oil trains. This includes 108 schools, 100 child care centers and 25 billion worth of infrastructure,” she said. “With so many people in Portland living near the tracks, we can't close our eyes to risk of these trains and hope that we again get lucky.”

This group is now asking for Gov. Brown to oppose upcoming oil-by-rail projects like the Tesoro-Savage Terminal proposed in Vancouver, and to work for a permanent ban on all oil-by-rail.

“It’s not safe, and it’s not responsible. It’s not safe for people who live nearby, and it’s not responsible to our neighborhoods and to our planet to keep doing this,” Portland Mayor Charlie Hales said. “We need to move in a different direction.”

Gov. Brown released a statement Tuesday saying she shares the concerns of the group, which is why after the derailment in Mosier she called for a moratorium on oil trains through the Columbia Gorge until she knows they are safe.

"I share these concerns about the safety of Oregonians and our environment. That's why one of the first steps I took after the accident in Mosier was to join members of Oregon's congressional delegation in calling for a moratorium on oil trains through the Columbia Gorge until we know that they are safe and first responders have the tools that they need.

“I am also concerned about any new proposed oil facility in Washington on the Columbia River, shared by our two states. I am closely monitoring the evaluation and recommendations about siting that Washington agencies will make to Governor Inslee.

“While Oregon has strengthened safety protocols and response capabilities to protect communities and ecosystems, critical federal rules that would enhance rail safety are either in litigation or are yet to be completed. I will continue to push the U.S. Department of Transportation and other federal authorities to take action that puts fewer Oregonians at risk of a dangerous crash in their backyards."

The group said they hope to see the governor also no longer grant permits for oil-by-rail and work with President Obama to move toward a permanent ban.

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