SW Washington residents protest oil train plan

FILE - This June 5, 2012, photo provided by Rangeland Energy, LLC, shows the first train to leave the company's crude oil loading terminal near Epping, ND. (AP Photo/Rangeland Energy, LLC)
FILE - This June 5, 2012, photo provided by Rangeland Energy, LLC, shows the first train to leave the company's crude oil loading terminal near Epping, ND. (AP Photo/Rangeland Energy, LLC)

VANCOUVER, Wash. (KOIN) — Dozens showed up in Vancouver Monday night to pay tribute to the victims of a fuel train that exploded in Quebec weeks ago.

This comes after oil refinery Tesoro broached plans to bring fuel trains just like the one that exploded in Canada into downtown Vancouver.

Those at Monday’s vigil also protested the proposal for the new Portland of Vancouver oil terminal.

Commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on the plan. However, after hearing about safety concerns — especially after the Canadian tragedy — they may hold off.

Canada-Oil Train Derailment
Smoke rises from railway cars that were carrying crude oil after derailing in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec, Canada, Saturday, July 6, 2013. A large swath of Lac Megantic was destroyed Saturday after a train carrying crude oil derailed, sparking several explosions and forcing the evacuation of up to 1,000 people. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Paul Chiasson)

Forty-two people died when a train filled with crude oil derailed and exploded in Quebec a few weeks ago. More than 40 buildings also blew up.

This accident, still under investigation, is a big reason why so many who live in Vancouver and other Southwest Washington communities want Port commissioners to say no to — or at least put off — a decision to support building a large crude oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

“We are being bamboozled by big oil, by big money,” said opponent Chris Connolly.

Opponents say they’ve gathered more than 14,000 signatures to urge a no vote on leasing land for the project.

Trains loaded with hundreds of thousands of barrels of crude oil would run through the Columbia River Gorge on the Washington side, and close to downtown Vancouver. The oil would then be shipped to refineries in the West Coast and Canada.

A big worry was the possibility of an oil spill. Now, after the Quebec derailment, there are concerns over possible explosions.

“If one of those tanker ruptures, there could be a toxic cloud,” said opponent Jacqueline Lafontaine.

The project is expected to create more than a hundred full-time jobs, plus millions in lease revenues for the port. But now the commissioners have a lot more questions.

“How do these cars differ than the ones in Quebec?” asked Port Commissioner Jerry Oliver Monday night.

Even if the commissioners approve the oil terminal, it will still be up to the governor of Washington to make the final decision.

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