Train oil spill cleanup costs rising

Railroad says price currently at $8.9 million

— The costs to clean up Bakken crude after an oil-laden train derailed June 3 is adding up.

In a press release earlier this week, Union Pacific Railroad said it remains committed to absorbing all the related costs from the fiery crash across the Columbia River from Klickitat County, Wash.’s Look Lake.

Railroad officials are estimating the current costs at about $8.9 million, including $1.7 million in equipment damages and $176,811 in track damages incurred by Federal Railroad Administration. Other costs include cleanup, mitigation, environmental, economic and others.

The railroad is currently negotiating cleanup costs with “Team Mosier,” a group comprising officials from the city and fire district, as well as local schools.

Team Mosier is working with Portland-based attorney William Gary, who is leading the cleanup.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is seeking $400,000 in reimbursement costs and the Environmental Protection Agency wants $340,000, according to reports in The Columbian newspaper. And the Washington state Department of Ecology wants $66,000 for its mitigation work.

The fiery June 3 derailment led to the spilling of 47,000 gallons of oil. Sixteen cars on the train were carrying a total of 448,000 gallons.

Most of the oil was captured in a wastewater treatment area before it could seep into the Columbia River. So far, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has not found any seepage into area wells.

The Washington Legislature passed a law to require railroads to prove they can afford mitigation, cleanup and other costs, should an oil car derail.

Gov. Jay Inslee signed the law May 14 requiring large railroads to plan with the state for “worst-case spills.”.

The law requires railroads to plan for the “largest foreseeable spill in adverse weather conditions.”

— The Hood River News contributed to this report.


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