In the wake of this month’s oil train derailment and fire along the Columbia River Gorge rail line, inspectors from Washington’s Utilities and Transportation Commission will be joining federal inspectors to examine every mile of tracks along the Evergreen State’s side of the river.
The UTC regulates railroad safety within the state and partners with Federal Railroad Administration to perform track inspections and other rail-related activities. The state agency also has two personnel who have been federally-certified to perform the reviews.
As the ill-fated oil train rolled through Mosier, Oregon, June 3rd enroute to a refinery in Tacoma, 16 cars carrying crude oil left the rails and four burst into flames, causing great concerns over safety and possible environmental damage.
Union Pacific has resumed running freight trains through the burned out section, but no oil trains have yet been staged for the route along the Oregon side of the gorge. With western Washington refineries thirsty for crude, some consideration might be made toward possibly routing along Burlington Northern Santa Fe tracks on the north side of the river.
According to the announcement today from the UTC office in Olympia, the joint inspection will take most of this week along tracks from Pasco to Vancouver, Washington.