UPDATE 6-Oregon derailment likely to reignite oil-by-rail safety concerns

Fri Jun 3, 2016 10:53pm EDT
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(Adds comment from U.S. Senator, details on fire)

By Eric M. Johnson

June 3 (Reuters) - A Union Pacific train carrying crude oil derailed and burst into flames along Oregon's scenic Columbia River gorge on Friday in the first major rail accident involving crude in a year.

While no injuries were reported, the train remained engulfed in flames six hours after the derailment, officials said. The accident has already renewed calls for stronger regulation to guard communities against crude-by-rail accidents.

Union Pacific Corp, owner of the line, said 11 rail cars from a 96-car train carrying crude oil derailed about 70 miles (110 km) east of Portland, near the tiny town of Mosier.

Oil spilled from one car, but multiple cars of Bakken crude caught fire, said Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Tom Fuller. Firefighters were still fighting the flames several hours later.

The crude was bought by TrailStone Inc's U.S. Oil & Refining Co and bound for its refinery in Tacoma, Washington, some 200 miles (322 km) northwest of the derailment, the company said.

Television footage showed smoke and flames along with overturned black tanker cars snaking across the tracks, which weave through the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

"I looked outside and there was black and white smoke blowing across the sky, and I could hear the flames," said Mosier resident Dan Hoffman, 32, whose house is about 100 meters (328 ft) from the derailment. "A sheriff's official in an SUV told me to get the hell out."   Continued...