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2016 Union Pacific oil train fire

Coordinates: 45°41′05″N 121°24′12″W / 45.6847006°N 121.4034557°W / 45.6847006; -121.4034557
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Mosier Oregon oil car derailment
Rail cars burning
DateJune 3, 2016
12:00 PST (19:00 GMT)
LocationMosier, Oregon
Coordinates45°41′05″N 121°24′12″W / 45.6847006°N 121.4034557°W / 45.6847006; -121.4034557
CountryUnited States
Incident typeDerailment
Damage15 tank cars derailed, several caught fire

On June 3, 2016, a Union Pacific train with 96 tank cars carrying Bakken oil from New Town, North Dakota to U.S. Oil and Refining in Tacoma, Washington derailed in the Columbia River Gorge near Mosier, Oregon. Sixteen of the 96 cars derailed after the train's emergency brake system about 18 cars back from the engines engaged - several cars then caught fire. By 5pm large explosions were coming from the tankers. All of the tank cars were modern CPC-1232 design.[1][2][3][4] Interstate 84 in Oregon was closed, with Washington State Route 14 being recommended as a detour.

Washington Department of Ecology, US Coast Guard, Federal Railroad Administration, and Portland Airport's specialty airport fire tender carrying 1,300 U.S. gallons (4,900 L) of firefighting foam were among the 20 agencies that responded. As of 4:30pm firefighters were allowing the fire to burn the oil, simply monitoring it.

Mosier residents were evacuated and the sewage treatment plant was shut down. An oil sheen was seen on the Columbia River by the following morning. Two days after the crash residents were allowed to return to their homes, and freight trains were running on the tracks, to the strong objection of the community. The community then passed an emergency motion asking Union Pacific to remove all oil from the damaged cars before resuming the use of the tracks. Union Pacific pushed the damaged cars out of the way and limited the train speed to 10 miles per hour (16 km/h) in the section.[5]

42,000 US gallons (160,000 L) of oil were spilled. Much of it was consumed by fire, some went into the Columbia River,[4] and 10,000 US gallons (38,000 L) were recovered from the city's sewage treatment plant.[6][7]

Non-investigation controversy[edit]

The National Transportation Safety Board declined to investigate due to the lack of injuries or fatalities and early information gathered after the incident occurred indicated there was not a significant safety issue.[8]

In response to the derailment and lack of investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden introduced the Mandate Oil Spill Inspections and Emergency Rules (Mosier) Act which calls for a moratorium on oil train traffic after major wrecks and require the Department of Transportation to reduce the amount of volatile gases in the crude oil those trains have been hauling. The bill would die in committee.[9][10]

Derailed and burning oil cars
Coast Guard aircrew aboard an MH-60 Jayhawk helicopter conducts an overflight near the scene of a train derailment

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff, KOIN 6 News (3 June 2016). "Oregon train derailment spills oil, sparks fire". koin.com. Archived from the original on 3 June 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "Oil train derails near Mosier in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge". oregonlive.com. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Oil Train Derails Near Hood River". opb.org. Archived from the original on 4 June 2016. Retrieved 3 June 2016.
  4. ^ a b Weisberg, Brent (6 June 2016). "Trains roll through Mosier, school cancelled". KOIN. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  5. ^ Weisberg, Brent (5 June 2016). "Mosier evacuations lifted, Union Pacific resumes service". KOIN. Archived from the original on 6 June 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2016.
  6. ^ Giegerich, Andy. "In Mosier, angry residents, complicated tasks ahead". American City Business Journals. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  7. ^ Mesh, Aaron (6 June 2016). "Oil Train Spilled 42,000 Gallons of Crude in Columbia River Gorge Crash - Willamette Week". Willamette Week. Retrieved 9 June 2016.
  8. ^ "Feds explain why they chose not to investigate oil train derailment in Columbia Gorge". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Tony Schick. Archived from the original on 21 July 2018. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  9. ^ "Mosier Act Demands Derailment Investigation". Hood River News. 20 July 2016. Retrieved 21 July 2018.
  10. ^ "Oil Train Legislation Mosier Act". Gorge Friends. Retrieved 21 July 2018.