Mosier residents wary of Trump decision to roll back oil train s - KPTV - FOX 12

Mosier residents wary of Trump decision to roll back oil train safety plans

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A decision from the federal government connected to train oil cars isn’t sitting very well with people in the Columbia River Gorge.

President Trump’s administration plans to roll back plans for enhanced safety measures for oil trains, meant to protect against crashes and spills, citing their increased costs.

It was just last summer when one of those crashes happened in Mosier, leading to a lot of anger in the community about oil trains in the gorge and the risks when it comes to safety and the environment.

Many residents said they remember the crash all too well. It was June 3, 2016, when a Union Pacific train carrying crude oil derailed in the small town.

The derailment sent 16 cars off the tracks, with three of them catching fire.

The disaster led to evacuations and protests., as well as calls by many to halt all oil train traffic in the Gorge. The cleanup efforts following the derailment were estimated to nearly reach $9 million.

Residents in the area told FOX 12 Thursday the Trump administration plans to roll back safety protections for oil trains, enacted under President Obama in 2015, feel like another blow.

“There’s no reason why dangerous oil should be traveling through communities whether small or large and endangering public safety, people’s lives and livelihoods,” Lauren Goldberg, staff attorney with the Columbia Riverkeepers, said.

MORE: Tribal leaders, Robert Kennedy Jr. discuss concerns over Mosier oil spill

The Obama-era regulations would have required so-called “high hazard flammable trains” to reduce speeds and have enhanced braking systems, like electronically-controlled pneumatic brakes, by the year 2021.

Mosier Mayor Arlene Burns told FOX 12 Thursday those plans were made to protect small communities like hers which could be wiped out by a potential disaster.

“These rules were made to help protect communities against catastrophic events,” she said. “If it would have been our normal Gorge winds when this derailment event happened, it would have wiped out our town and the community downwind, wherever that was.”

Burns explained that Federal Railroad Administration investigators said found safety measures could have lessened the impact of the 2016 incident.

“The FRA concluded on our Mosier derailment that had these brakes been actually on the train that derailed it would have made the derailment less of an issue, it would have definitely helped,” she said. “We know we dodged a bullet.”

MORE: Railroad in fiery derailment agrees to changes

According to the Associated Press, Trump administration officials claim the safety measures would cost three times the benefit they would produce.

In a statement, Chet Thompson of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers called the rollback a “rational decision.”

Burns disagrees, seeing the move as a major setback.

“It’s incredibly disappointing,” she told FOX 12. “It feels like we go one step forward and 20 steps back.”

MORE: City of Mosier continues to fight against oil by rail traffic

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley also released a statement Wednesday blasting the president’s decision.

“Oil trains are rolling explosion hazards, and as we’ve seen all too many times - and all too recently in Mosier - it’s not a question of ‘if’ but ‘when’ oil train derailments will occur. Degrading oil train safety requirements is a huge step backward and one that puts our land, homes, and lives at risk.”

Burns said the saving grace to the news is that the proposed Tesoro-Savage Terminal in Vancouver looks like it will not be approved.

If that were to go through, she warned that oil train traffic in Mosier would go from four trains a month to five per day.

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