Friday, June 17, 2016

Oregon wants to halt crude-oil trains through state; cites poor safety inspections by railroads

Oregon Department of Transportation photo 
Oregon, where a crude oil train derailed in rural Mosier in the Columbia River Gorge this month, "has asked the Federal Railroad Administration to place an open-ended moratorium on oil trains traveling through the state," Hillary Borrud reports for The Oregonian. Officials said they were concerned that preliminary findings of an investigation into the derailment "suggest inspectors might not be able to detect the problem that likely caused the crash."

"Investigators identified a problem with the screws that fasten the rails to the railroad ties as the cause of the derailment," Borrud writes. "But in a June 8 letter to the Federal Railroad Administration, an Oregon Department of Transportation administrator said recent inspections failed to catch a number of broken screws along the track in Mosier." Hal Gard, the state's rail and public transit administrator, wrote, "Until the underlying cause of the bolt failures is understood and a means of detecting this defect is developed, we request a moratorium on running unit trains over sections of track that contain track fasteners of this material in the state of Oregon."

Oregon has yet to receive a response from federal officials, said ODT spokesman Tom Fuller, Borrud writes. "The broken screws along the track in mosier were already rusted, suggesting they had been damaged for awhile. Fuller said Union Pacific Railroad, which voluntarily suspended oil-by-rail shipments through the gorge on a temporary basis, claims its inspectors can identify the broken fasteners. Fuller told Borrud, "However, it ran over those same tracks recently and didn't detect it. If they claim they can detect these bolts, why didn't they?" (Read more)

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