As crews worked to cleanup overturned oil tanker cars and answer questions about the cause of Friday’s train derailment in Mosier, the Hood River community gathered to protest oil transport by rail.
Drivers honked their car horns in support of a large crowd that wielded signs at a demonstration organized by environmental groups. Before the crowd marched through the streets, they listened to speeches from community leaders.
Emily Reed is a Mosier City Council member. She believes transporting crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge is extremely dangerous.
“There are a lot of risks that we take in Mosier, that I have taken, that our family has taken,” said Reed.
Her eight-year-old son, Gus was among the elementary school students evacuated from Mosier Community School after the Union Pacific Train derailed. “The town itself could have been leveled, so we are very, very very lucky,” she said.
“Diesel particulate matter can kill and this is the worst kind of known particulate matter. It contains benzene, a known carcinogen, and toluene, and the list goes on,” said Regna Merritt, the Healthy Climate Program Director for Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.
The majority of people who took part in the protest wore bright red t-shirts and carried hand-made signs.
“My sign here says ‘Wind, Solar, Electric Vehicles’, I see an energy revolution, but it’s being drowned out by incumbent industries,” said White Salmon resident Eric Strid.
“I was walking along the trail by the train with my daughter, so thank god the derailment didn’t happen while we were there just about two weeks ago we were walking right along there in Mosier,” said Hood River resident Charlene Imotta.
“I’m sort of not affiliated with any group, but with them all. I’m an environmental activist. Really, when you think about patriotism, we can use American technology in a really patriotic way that creates a lot more jobs and creates a lot less danger for people,” said Dave Berger of Klickitat County.
And with that, Dave Berger fell in step with the rest of the crowd as they took off chanting and marching down the hill along one of Hood River’s main streets.