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Public can now learn about oil trains passing through town

Members of the public can now find out about trains running through their community that are laden with crude oil from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota.

The Oregon State Fire Marshal has begun posting reports from railroad companies about their shipments through the state, at www.oregon.gov/osp/SFM/Pages/SERC/CrudeOilReports.aspx.

The reports are now required for rail companies that carry at least 1 million gallons or more of Bakken crude oil on a single train, to comply with an emergency order issued June 6 by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Bakken oil is more volatile than other oil, and derailments have caused severe explosions and fires in several communities in recent months. There also are serious safety questions about the type of rail cars used to ship the oil.

Rail companies must provide estimates of the number of trains and volumes of oil per week through each county, including the route being used, emergency response information, and a point of contact at the railroad.

The first batch of reports recently was posted on the website, detailing the following movements in Oregon:

• Portland and Western estimated in a June 5 report that it will ship three trains of oil per week through Multnomah and Columbia counties, with oil originating from Berthold, Dore, Eland and Epping, North Dakota.

Those trains go through Hayden Island, St. Johns and Linnton in Portland, plus Scappoose, Warren, St. Helens, Columbia City, Deer Island, Ranier and Port Westward.

• BNSF Railway estimated that for the week of June 5 to 11 it would operate zero to nine weekly trains loaded with crude oil through Multnomah, Deschutes, Wasco, Jefferson, Klamath and Umatilla counties. BSNF did not provide the route of its rail tracks.

For its May 29 to June 4 report, the rail line reported three trains through Multnomah County and one through the other counties.

• Union Pacific reported that it doesn’t currently run Bakken crude oil trians exceeding the 1 million gallon threshhold through Oregon.

Residents concerned about oil shipments in their neighborhoods may now consult an interactive map produced by San Francisco-based ForestEthics. It's "Blast Zone" mapping tool, available at www.Blast-Zone.org, details oil train routes within a half-mile and a mile of peoples' homes or other addresses.

Steve Law can be reached at 503-546-5139 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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