Train Fire In The Outskirts of Portland

By Roy L Hales

Screen-shot-2014-03-18-at-3.43.47-PM1There was a train fire in the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, after a semi-truck lost control of his vehicle around 8:45 am this morning. According to Oregon Live, the train was not moving. A neighbour work up after hearing a “boom,” followed by three more explosions.Another witness says he heard a total of six “booms.” There was a train fire in the outskirts of Portland, Oregon, after a semi-truck lost control of his vehicle around 8:45 am this morning.

Train Fire In The Outskirts of Portland

The truck driver was killed.

Flames spread to eight railway cars. containing oil or asphalt, which did not catch fire.

Firefighters were able to extinguish the blaze by 11:00 a.m.

Could Have Been Much Worse

Image of fire taken by @LIHIpdx
Image of fire taken by @LIHIpdx

Though there was a fatality, the incident could have been much worse.

The contents of the rail cars did not catch fire. Nor did the flames spread to  NW Natural’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) storage tank, which was  approximately 400 feet distant.

“We are saddened by this accident this morning given the loss of life with the truck driver,” said Travis Williams of Willamette Riverkeeper. “While this is the first crash of this type I can recall in the harbor area, the result of this truck/train crash sheds light on some of the potential dangers related to our fossil fuel infrastructure (specifically the nearby tanks), and its relationship to river health, and the safety of our communities.”

“After dozens of oil train explosions, and now this frightening fire in Portland, it is reckless to permit more oil trains,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “Had the tanker train contained explosive Bakken crude, the explosion could have been devastating to Portland.”

Possible Ramifications

Oil companies may be cringing at the possible ramifications of this incident.

It has been a little over a month since Portland’s city council passed a resolution against any new oil by rail projects. This does not apply to existing contracts, such as the train that caught fire today.

Across the Willamette River in Washington state, Tesoro Savage hopes to build the largest oil by rail terminal in North America. Approximately 360,000 barrels of crude oil or bitumen could arrive every day.From there, the oil will be loaded on to tankers and shipped down the Columbia River to the Pacific Oceans and ports beyond. The Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is currently reviewing the safety and environmental impacts of more oil trains. Governor Inslee will make the final yes or no decision.

2 thoughts on “Train Fire In The Outskirts of Portland”

  1. Terrible tragedy and heartfelt condolences to the family who lost a loved one.

    We all need to keeping an eye on infrastructure and the costs to the environment, impact on wildlife etc. Profits before people belongs in the 20th century not 21st century.

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