The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) has closed I-84 between The Dalles and Cascade Locks as a result of an oil train derailing. KGW News, an NBC affiliate, reported the accident occurred at 12:00 p.m. PDT, on June 3, 2016.
Initially, I-84 was only closed between Mosier and The Dalles, however, ODOT extended the interstate highway closure around 2:00 p.m. They recommend vehicles use the Hood River Bridge to detour the closure. The toll will be waived until I-84 reopens.
A spokesman for the Oregon Department of Forestry told KGW that the Union Pacific operates the train. There were eight cars involved in the derailment, all are filled with oil. At this time, only one car has erupted into flames sending a huge, gray pillar of smoke high above the treeline.
Trucks carrying foam will aid in fire suppression. One was sent by Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway and the second was sent by Portland Airport Fire & Rescue. The truck from Fire & Rescue carries approximately 1,3000 gallons of foam.
The accident occurred close to Mosier, which is almost 70 miles from Portland. Parents of school-aged children in Mosier have been advised the schools have been evacuated, and students were taken to Wahtonka High School in The Dalles.
Arial photos show the derailment took place in a wooded area not far from the Columbia River. Residents in Oregon and Washington have expressed concerns about the shipments of oil along the Columbia River Gorge. Derailments, oil-based fires and oil leaks into the river and the environment are among the concerns that have been expressed.
There have been no reports of injuries at this time.
UPDATE: 11:19 p.m. according to a tweet posted KPTV, ODOT officials report that no oil or fire suppression foam from the oil train derailment has reached Rock Creek, the Columbia River, or any nearby tributaries.
The Public Slate will provide updates as they become available.
Written by Cathy Milne
KGW News: Oil train derails; I-84 shut down from The Dalles to the Cascade Locks
The Oregonian: Everything you need to know and oil trains in Oregon, Washington
Image Courtesy of Russ Allison Loar’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License