Company Apologizes for Oil Train Disaster It Acknowledges Was Inevitable

October 4, 2020 0 By JohnValbyNation

As crews continue efforts to contain an oil sheen on the Columbia River and assess the environmental impact of a derailment and resulting fire on Friday, a spokesperson for the oil-by-train company behind the disaster issued an apology to the community of Mosier, Oregon on Saturday.

“I want to apologize to the community,” Union Pacific spokesperson Raquel Espinoza said at a news conference. “This is the type of accident we work to prevent every day.”

Though Espinoza’s assurances that the company would pay for the cleanup costs may have come as relief to some, the comment also held a tacit acknowledgement that the existence of oi-by-rail is an inherent danger to the ecology, wildlife, and people who live along or near these routes.

“Just as safety experts predicted, the new rules are insufficient, and people, wildlife, rivers and lakes will continue to pay a huge price for the government’s failure to take steps to adequately protect us from oil trains.” —Jared Margolis, Center for Biological DiversitAs the Associated Press reports:

Jared Margolis, an attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity, which has joined with other local and national groups in calling for stronger protections against oil trains, said Friday’s derailment proves once more—and despite company assurances and new regulations—that there is no safe way to transport this material.

“Unfortunately we’ll continue to see these fiery derailments even with the new regulations in place,” said Margolis. “Just as safety experts predicted, the new rules are insufficient, and people, wildlife, rivers and lakes will continue to pay a huge price for the government’s failure to take steps to adequately protect us from oil trains.”

In a weekend blog post, Matt Krogh, the extreme oil campaign director for the environmental group Stand, explained that because these oil derailment fires burn so hot—and the fuel is so volatile and toxic—there is simply no way for local fire departments to adequately deal with such situations when they occur. In fact, outside of ordering evacuations and creating perimeters, federal guidelines advice first responders to just stand back and let the fires burn out.

“Federal emergency response guidance and fire chiefs have long recognized that there is no effective emergency response to a crude oil derailment fire event,” writes Krogh. “If even one tank car of crude oil is involved in a fire, federal guidelines are clear that firefighters should pull back half a mile and let it burn. And that is another good reason that oil trains are too dangerous for the rails.”

On Saturday, nearly a thousand feet of containment booms had been placed in the Columbia River after oil sheens were spotted near the mouth of a local stream, downriver from Friday’s derailment.

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