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Local Leaders Touring Site Of Mosier Oil Train Crash To Assess Impacts And Risks

Brent Foster
This aerial video image taken from a drone shows crumpled oil tankers lying beside the railroad tracks after a fiery train derailment on June 3 in Mosier.

A coalition of local politicians known as the Safe Energy Leadership Alliance meets Monday in Vancouver, Wash. Before their meeting, several of the group’s members including King County Executive Dow Constantine will tour the site of last June’s fiery oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon.  

Constantine is the chair of the alliance, which came together two years ago around the sole purpose of protecting local communities from the increasing risks of coal and oil trains. Their tour of the train crash site in Mosieris meant to help them understand exactly what happened after 14 cars piled up on the tracks that run right through the Columbia River Gorge.

Chad Lewis is with the executive’s office. He says it was a remarkably close call, because it was a relatively rare windless day.

“Had the wind been stronger, it could have fueled the fire into an explosion which potentially could have incinerated the town of Mosier,” Lewis said.

Instead, the damage was limited to billowing black smoke and an oil spill that contaminated local ground water. Lewis says the luck is remarkable, especially considering that the train was headed toward Tacoma.

“And if it had derailed closer to its destination, that could have had untold amount of impact in one of the largest cities in the Northwest,” he said.

After the tour of the site with a local fire chief and the mayor of Mosier, elected leaders from Washington and Oregon and local tribes will discuss safety strategies moving forward. They want to tally the true costs of increasing oil and coal train traffic as permits are pending fora major new oil train facility in Vancouver and a new coal export terminal in Longview.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to