On Friday, June 3, 2016, at 12:15 pm, a west-bound Union Pacific 96-car unit train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed in Mosier, Oregon adjacent to historic Highway 30, Interstate-84, and the Columbia River. Sixteen cars derailed: three of the rail cars caught fire and four were found to be discharging oil. Twenty-eight local and regional fire departments and hazmat teams responded from OR and WA to support firefighting efforts. Emergency management officials evacuated 147 residents from an adjacent neighborhood, and put the rest of the town on a precautionary alert. Interstate 84 and U.S. Hwy 30 were shut down temporarily.
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Crude oil from the derailment threatened to discharge into nearby Rock Creek, an adjacent wetland, and the Columbia River. Containment booms were installed in Rock Creek, although no oil was observed to have flowed to the creek. During the derailment, the railcars cut off the top of a sewer manhole and approximately 13,000 gallons of oil was sucked into the nearby wastewater treatment plant. A minor amount of oil discharged from the WWTP outfall into the river. The outfall pipe was plugged and oil removed. This outfall area in the river was also boomed, and no oil has been observed in the River since June 4. There were no observable impacts to fish or wildlife.
After cooling the railcars and fighting the fire overnight with water, the fire was extinguished with minimal amount of foam at 2:05 a.m. Saturday, June 4. Residents were allowed to return to their homes on the evening of Sunday, June 5, after air monitoring showed it was safe, and after a work-around to wastewater treatment systems damaged in the derailment, was instituted. There were no injuries or fatalities as a result of the derailment and response.
EPA formed Unified Command with Mosier Fire District, ODEQ, Washington Department of Ecology, Union Pacific Railroad, and the Yakama Nation in order to ensure a well coordinated response that protects public health and the environment. A Union Pacific contract Incident Management Team (IMT) mobilized to the site by mid-morning of June 5, and integrated into UC.
Media and political interest was high and intense during the response. A Joint Information Center (JIC) was formed early in the response to handle press inquiries from local, state, and national media outlets. The UC Liaison also conducted multiple VIP tours and set up two community meetings.
Most recent calculations show a total of 47,000 gallons of oil released: 16,000 gallons burned or vaporized, 13,000 gallons collected in the WWTP, and 18,000 gallons discharged to soil. Over two million gallons of water were used to cool and put out the fire.
The emergency phase of the response terminated on Friday, June 10, and the site lead for further soil and groundwater assessment and remediation was transferred to ODEQ. Eight groundwater monitoring wells, two extraction wells, and a bio-sparging system was installed at the site to monitor and treat contamination found in shallow groundwater. 2960 tons of oil-contaminated soil has been excavated and transported off-site for disposal. There has been no contamination found, nor is there any threat of such in the city's drinking water wells.