Listen: Oil train derailment 911 calls

Dispatchers notified deputies that a “train derailed and there is fire”

A photo provided by Oregon DEQ shows debris following a train derailment in Oregon.
A photo provided by Oregon DEQ shows debris following a train derailment in Oregon.

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Wasco County Sheriff’s Office released the 911 calls and portions of the firefighting efforts and law enforcement response after a Union Pacific train derailed in Mosier on Friday.

The records were first obtained by KOIN 6 News on Tuesday.

According to documents released by the dispatch center, the first 911 call was received at 12:14:03 p.m. on Friday June 3. Dispatchers for the sheriff’s office immediately notified deputies that a “train derailed and there is fire.”

A photo provided by Oregon DEQ shows smoke coming from an train derailment in Oregon.
A photo provided by Oregon DEQ shows smoke coming from an train derailment in Oregon.

Initial response timeline:
12:14:03 – “Train derailed and there is fire.”
12:16:51 – 911 caller “reports oil cars are on fire.”
12:23:18 – Oregon Department of Forestry dispatches an engine and personnel.
12:24:49 – Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area “is aware and responding.”
12:30:29 – Mosier School “has been advised of the fire.”
12:31:41 – All call page for fire staff
12:34:10 – Outside agency dispatches two firefighters with train derailment training
12:40:21 – Oregon State Police notified
12:41:35 – US Forest Service law enforcement units responding from Sandy, Ore.
12:50:12 – Union Pacific Railroad Police responding from Portland, Ore.
12:58:46 – Interstate 84 closed from Hood River to The Dalles.
1:02:23 p.m. – Mosier students are “going to Wahtonka Campus.”
2:21:10 p.m. – Clackamas County HAZMAT team en-route.
2:29:13 p.m. – Prepare for mass notification about possible evacuations.
5:26:47 p.m. – Mosier School completely evacuated. “No one in the building.”

Officials estimated that 42,000 gallons of crude escaped from four rail cars that derailed. The cars were part of a 96-car train. Sixteen (16) rail cars derailed. They were carrying a total of 450,000 gallons of Bakken crude oil.

Authorities estimated that 10,000 gallons of oil were removed from the wastewater system after the crash. The remaining 32,000 gallons burned off and vaporized, was captured by booms in the Columbia River, or was absorbed by soil.

The City of Mosier lifted its boil water advisory on Monday for all but two homes on Rock Creek Road. Environmental test on water samples revealed that the water from a back-up well is safe to drink.

A temporary bypass system that allowed the city to restore sewer service to customers remains in place, according to an EPA spokesperson. The city’s wastewater is being collected and trucked to Hood River for disposal.

Crews have removed all of the oil from the derailed cars. It took 77 truck loads, according to a spokesperson with the unified command on scene. Sometime by Thursday, crews expect to have all of the derailed cars removed from the scene.

Now that all of the oil has been removed from the derailed cars, it will be transported by tractor-trailer, in special containers, to The Dalles. The oil will be held in The Dalles. Union Pacific will eventually transport it to Tacoma, Wash., its original destination, according to Greg Svelund with Oregon DEQ. A date and time of transportation has not been released.

Svelund said Union Pacific has temporarily decided to not transport any “new” shipments of crude oil through the Gorge. It remains unclear when Union Pacific will resume oil transports.

Transport of new oil “would not happen until after UP further investigates and meets with the community,” Svelund said via email.

Union Pacific has identified a preliminary cause of the crash, according to the EPA. The rail company is reporting that a bolt that fastens the rail to the railroad ties may have been at fault. A final report has yet to be submitted to federal regulators.

The EPA and U.S. Coast Guard continue to monitor the Columbia River for any signs of an oil sheen. The light sheen that was spotted early Saturday morning has disappeared and hasn’t resurfaced in 48 hours, according to Svelund. The booms remain in place as a precautionary measure.

Svelund said the sheen did not extend very far into the Columbia River and there doesn’t appear to be any risk to the salmon making their run through the river.

On Sunday, despite protests from city leaders, rail traffic resumed through Mosier. Trains have been limited to 10 miles per hour while traveling through the cleanup zone.

Once all of the rail cars have been removed, crews will begin removing contaminated soil.

A photo provided by Oregon DEQ shows the booms being used to collect oil from the Columbia River following a train derailment.
A photo provided by Oregon DEQ shows the booms being used to collect oil from the Columbia River following a train derailment.

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