Union Pacific: Gorge track is safest in the industry

The Union Pacific trail carrying Bakken crude oil derailed in Mosier on June 3

An overhead look at a train derailment near Mosier, June 4, 2016 (Washington Department of Ecology/Twitter)

MOSIER, Ore. (KOIN) — Union Pacific leaders met with the Mosier community for town hall meeting Friday night — one week after 16 cars derailed, spilling crude oil and sending smoke and flames up for hours.

“We know this has been a major setback and we apologize,” one Union Pacific representative told attendees Friday.

The last of the damaged rail cars from the oil train derailment in Mosier have been removed and will be recycled in Portland. All the contaminated soil has also been cleared away and willl be replaced.

Representatives touted the safety of the track during the meeting.

Union Pacific officials said the trail derailment was caused by a broken lag bolt, as show in the schematic. (KOIN)
Union Pacific officials said the trail derailment was caused by a broken lag bolt, as show in the schematic. (KOIN)

“The track stretches that we’ve built through the Columbia River Gorge are the safest track structures in the industry and the United States of America,” another rep said.

Leaders say the derailment was caused by a broken lag bolt — something a gauge restraint measurement system would have caught.

Before the derailment, that type on inspection was only happening once every 18 months along this track. Union Pacific representatives said from now on, it will be done 4 times a year.

They promised to make things right, but even as cleanup continues, leaders from the surrounding cities and Northwest native tribes are calling for an end to oil trains coming through the Gorge.

“We believe there is no safe way,” Mosier Mayor Arlene Burns said. “This is a straight piece of track and the trains were going at a normal speed or slower.”

It’s not easy to just put a stop to oil transportation according to Union Pacific spokesman Justin Jacobs.

“At the end of the day we have tens of thousands of customers that rely on our goods and services for this economy and we take that obligation very seriously,” Jacobs said.

Jacobs said the way to restore trust in the community is to be transparent and work with the community.

Despite the safety measures in place and the cleanup, Burns isn’t budging.

“We need to shift to a different way of doing business and so we are not wanting to compromise,” she said.



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