Fire Near St. Johns Bridge in Portland

Update: (Dec. 14, 2015) —We want to clarify that the train involved in the Portland fire on December 13 did not burn. The Oregonian and dozens of other media outlets originally reported that the train caught fire in this tragic accident. We relied on these media reports, and mistakenly wrote on Sunday morning that the train burned. Subsequent reporting and photos show that the train, reportedly carrying asphalt, did not rupture in this accident.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


LARGE RAIL FIRE IN PORTLAND HIGHLIGHTS THE DANGER OF FOSSIL FUEL INFRASTRUCTURE

Portland, OR (Dec. 13, 2015)—A crash involving a tanker train reportedly carrying asphalt caused an explosion and fire on the banks of the Willamette River this morning.

“We are saddened by this accident this morning given the loss of life with the truck driver,” said Travis Williams of Willamette Riverkeeper. “While this is the first crash of this type I can recall in the harbor area, the result of this truck/train crash sheds light on some of the potential dangers related to our fossil fuel infrastructure (specifically the nearby tanks), and its relationship to river health, and the safety of our communities.”

Tesoro proposes to build the nation’s largest crude-by-rail terminal in Vancouver, Washington. The Washington Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council is currently reviewing the safety and environmental impacts of more oil trains. Governor Inslee will make the final yes or no decision.

“After dozens of oil train explosions, and now this frightening fire in Portland, it is reckless to permit more oil trains,” said Brett VandenHeuvel, Executive Director of Columbia Riverkeeper. “Had the tanker train contained explosive Bakken crude, the explosion could have been devastating to Portland.”

In addition, the large rail fire and explosion occurred approximately 400 feet from NW Natural’s Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) storage tank.

Fire and rescue workers clean up the scene in Northwest, Portland, Ore., on December 13, 2015 after a tractor trailer collided with a tanker train causing a massive fire around eight train cars carrying asphalt. (Photo by: Alex Milan Tracy)

Fire and rescue workers clean up the scene in Northwest, Portland, Ore., on December 13, 2015 after a tractor trailer collided with a tanker train causing a massive fire around eight train cars carrying asphalt. (Photo by: Alex Milan Tracy)

Fire and rescue workers clean up the scene in Northwest, Portland, Ore., on December 13, 2015 after a tractor trailer collided with a tanker train causing a massive fire around eight train cars carrying asphalt. (Photo by: Alex Milan Tracy)

Fire and rescue workers clean up the scene in Northwest, Portland, Ore., on December 13, 2015 after a tractor trailer collided with a tanker train causing a massive fire around eight train cars carrying asphalt. (Photo by: Alex Milan Tracy)

About Columbia Riverkeeper
Columbia Riverkeeper’s mission is to protect and restore the water quality of the Columbia River and all life connected to it, from the headwaters to the Pacific Ocean. Representing over 8,000 members and supporters, Columbia Riverkeeper works to restore a Columbia River where people can safely eat the fish they catch, and where children can swim without fear of toxic exposure. The organization is a member of Waterkeeper Alliance, the world’s fastest growing environmental movement, uniting more than 200 Waterkeeper organizations worldwide. For more information go to columbiariverkeeper.org.

About Willamette Riverkeeper
Willamette Riverkeeper is a non-profit organization, whose sole mission is to protect and restore the Willamette River. We believe that a river with good water quality and abundant natural habitat is a basic public right. The Willamette River belongs to all of us, and should be protected as such. For more information go to willamette-riverkeeper.org.


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