U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-OR., this week introduced legislation that would address safety concerns regarding the transport of oil via railways and to better prepare and empower local communities in the event of an accident.
The Crude Oil Advanced Tracking Act would require railroads to share information regarding oil shipments with state emergency responders so they know what risk they face and allocate tens of millions in financial assistance towards emergency preparedness and risk reduction in local communities.
“Oregonians know all too well the derailment of trains carrying crude oil and hazardous materials is no hypothetical. This happened in Oregon’s own backyard and our beautiful Gorge went up in flames,” Wyden said. “There needs to be safeguards in place and local communities should be empowered against the threat of oil train derailments, ensuring that if tragedy strikes that emergency services can quickly respond and save lives.”
The Crude Oil Advanced Tracking Act:
· mandates that railroads share the manifest information of dangerous trains with local emergency responders in every community through which their materials will travel;
· allocates $15 million in High Hazard Rail Shipments Preparedness and Training Grants to support the development, improvement or implementation of emergency plans and training for communities through which crude oil trains regularly pass; and
· provides $25 million of financial assistance to support local projects that reduce risk or help protect communities.
This bill is in response to multiple accidents involving trains carrying crude oil, including a 2016 derailment in Mosier, Oregon that spilled 42,000 gallons of crude oil in the Columbia River Gorge and sparked a large fire.