NPR Story
5:28 pm
Thu July 3, 2014

3 Oil Trains Travel Through Oregon Each Week

Newly released documents show that three trains are hauling oil from North Dakota each week to a Columbia River shipping terminal in northwestern Oregon.

Oregon became the latest state to make public the rail industry's reports on how many trains are carrying oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota.

According to documents made public Thursday from the state fire marshal’s office, those three trains are traveling on BNSF Railway tracks through Multnomah County. Then they’re switched to the Portland & Western Railroad tracks to deliver the oil to a shipping facility at the Port of St. Helens near Clatskanie.

BNSF Railway also reported that oil trains travel through South-Central Oregon once each week.

Union Pacific Railroad informed the state that it does not carry enough Bakken oil through the state to disclose information. Trains must carry more than 1 million gallons, or roughly 35 tank cars, to be required to release information.

Last month Washington officials made public railroad reports showing 18 oil trains are traveling along the Washington side of the Columbia River each week on their way to various terminals in both states and refineries in Washington.

The U.S. Department of Transportation recently required railroads to report on trains carrying Bakken crude. This volatile type of oil has been involved in fiery explosions – one killed 47 people in Quebec last summer.

Those notifications became the subject of a transparency debate after the railroads asked states to sign nondisclosure agreements.

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