Washington Gov. Inslee calls on USDOT to step up crude-by-rail oversight
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee met late last week with Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg to call for a halt to Bakken crude-oil trains through his state until additional federal safety requirements are in place. The meeting was held in the wake of a Bakken crude-oil train derailment in Mosier, Ore., which resulted in a fire that burned for several hours near the Columbia River Gorge. The Union Pacific Railroad train originated in New Town, N.D., and was on its way to Tacoma, Wash., when the derailment occurred. A preliminary report issued last week by the Federal Railroad Administration determined that UP did not adequately inspect tracks in the area and that an electronic braking system would have resulted in fewer derailed cars. Sixteen cars derailed in the incident. "It is unclear at this point whether the FRA has the authority to order a stop to unsafe oil train transport, but they committed to looking into what they can do and will revisit what can be done to halt UP's Bakken oil train transport until necessary safety improvements are made," said Inslee in a prepared statement. Inslee also made a separate request to UP to halt all oil train shipments through Washington until the Class I improves its track inspection protocols. In the past, the governor has criticized the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) for not going far enough to strengthen federal oversight of crude-by-rail shipment. "Action at the federal level is imperative. Slower train speeds, faster phase-out of older tank cars and electronic braking systems are real actions that can prevent potentially devastating accidents," Inslee said. "I made clear to Feinberg that federal regulators need to act on these things immediately."