Oregon Ill-Prepared for Oil Train Spill


Last month’s oil spill in Lynchburg, Virginia has started quite a debate about the safety of hauling more and more oil; especially as U.S. oil exploration continues to grow. The Oregonian investigated the resources in Oregon.

When a CSX oil train derailed and caught fire April 30 in Lynchburg, Virginia, dumping more than 20,000 gallons of crude into the James River, the spill wasn’t controlled for hours.

If a similar accident happened on an Oregon waterway, the response could be just as slow. Like Virginia, Oregon doesn’t have any state law requiring railroads to plan for oil spills. Readiness has lagged.

Almost 500 million gallons of crude oil moved alongside Oregon waterways last year: the Columbia River, the Deschutes, the Willamette and Upper Klamath Lake. It’s a new phenomenon, one that has introduced the risks of potentially catastrophic spills to some of the state’s most iconic rivers, best-known salmon runs and world-renowned fishing destinations.

But despite months of nationwide public scrutiny of crude-by-rail safety, concern from Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and efforts by state regulators, spill planning is still a mess.

‘It’s moving very slow,” said Scott Knutson, a U.S. Coast Guard oil spill official. ‘There’s a lot of equipment. It may not yet all be in the right place for the changing transportation picture in the Northwest.”

Continue reading at Oregon Live.


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