Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber is calling for a thorough review of oil train safety.
According to the governor’s spokeswoman Rachel Wray, the governor’s office is convening a series of meetings with public officials to assess Oregon’s role in rail safety and its ability to respond to derailments.
The move comes amid growing concerns about transporting crude oil by rail following several damaging oil train explosions last year –- including one that killed 47 people in Canada. Oil trains started delivering crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to a shipping terminal near Clatskanie in 2012. The trains travel through the Portland metropolitan area along the Columbia River. A national fuel storage company has plans to turn a Portland asphalt plant near the Willamette River into a rail and marine terminal for crude oil.
Wray says the governor wants to be sure emergency responders along that route are properly trained to handle an oil train derailment and that they have better information about what kind of material is traveling through local communities.
“We need to know what’s being shipped and where it’s going, and getting that information to emergency responders is a big part of what these meetings are intended to bring about,” Wray said.
The meetings will involve transportation officials and emergency responders, as well as the state Department of Environmental Quality.
“We need to make sure we’re doing everything we can to fill any gaps, improve communications and really work together between all the entities overseeing health, safety and transportation in the state,” Wray said.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee wants his administration to spend $652,000 to assess the risks of increased use of trains and ships to transport oil through the state. State lawmakers are considering legislation that would require companies to disclose more information about oil being transported through the state.
Katie Campbell contributed to this report.