PORTLAND, Ore. -- After an oil train derailment caused a fire, oil spill and evacuations near the small town of Mosier, Oregon, Governor Kate Brown and other state leaders have called for a moratorium on oil trains in the Columbia River Gorge.
Gov. Brown, Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, Representatives Earl Blumenauer and Suzanne Bonamici released a joint statement calling for the temporary halt, while environmental problems threaten the state’s biggest river.
“Oil train tankers are still lying on their sides in Mosier, the ground and water have yet to be cleaned up, and there’s still no good explanation for the cause of Friday’s crash,” the statement said. “It is too soon to resume oil train traffic through the Columbia River Gorge.”
Union Pacific said it would not run crude oil through the Gorge "anytime soon," according to spokesman Justin Jacobs. KGW reporter Pat Dooris said UP didn't have any oil trains scheduled to run this week.
All of the oil inside the derailed train cars has been moved by truck to The Dalles. The oil will eventually be transported by rail to its original destination of Tacoma, Washington.
Non-oil trains are passing through Mosier, albeit at just 10 mph, slower than the usual 30 mph. Some oil cars carrying oil from derailed cars that did not burst will travel through the Gorge on trains carrying other freight.
The Washington side of the Gorge, which sees oil train traffic from Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), is not impacted by the Mosier situation.
Two trains a day travel through the Washington side on average, according to a BNSF spokesman. Those trains travel at a maximum speed of 45 mph, slowing to 35 mph in areas where the population exceeds 100,000 people.
BNSF allowed Union Pacific to send oil trains through the Washington side over the weekend.
Union Pacific restarted service on the Oregon side of the Gorge despite objections from the Mosier City Council.
Photos: Train derailment in the Gorge
At an emergency meeting Sunday afternoon, the council approved a motion demanding that oil be removed from derailed cars before traffic is restarted. They also wanted a thorough investigation before the resumption of "high-risk" traffic.
No injuries were reported in the derailment in which 16 of 96 tank cars went off the tracks and started a fire in four of the cars.
Raw video: Flames, plumes pouring from oil train fire
The full joint statement from Oregon leaders:
“Oil train tankers are still lying on their sides in Mosier, the ground and water have yet to be cleaned up, and there’s still no good explanation for the cause of Friday’s crash. It is too soon to resume oil train traffic through the Columbia River Gorge. Union Pacific should not resume oil train traffic before meeting with the community of Mosier and giving a thorough explanation for the cause of this accident and an assurance that the company is taking the necessary steps to prevent another one. A train full of toxic crude oil derailing, burning, and exploding near homes, schools, and businesses is a worst fear realized for people who live in Mosier and in other communities along the tracks throughout the Gorge. They deserve to know that the causes of this derailment have been both identified and fixed, and there should be a moratorium on oil train traffic until they get those explanations and assurances. We will also be pushing for the Department of Transportation to take a hard look at alternative routes for oil and hazardous material trains that would put fewer Oregonians at risk of a dangerous crash in their backyards.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.