Fatigue remains a major cause of railroad accidents and incidents after decades of warnings. Safety advocates say oil by rail has raised the stakes for finding a solution.
It's been a bad week for Tesoro in the press. A KUOW investigation revealed that four years after a deadly blast at the company's plant in Anacortes, no one has been held accountable. Now, the Sightline Institute has issued a scathing report on Tesoro's practices.
In a new DHM Research poll, 56 percent of Northwest residents said they support transportation of oil by rail to reach West Coast refineries, with the refined oil being used for domestic purposes.
Newly released documents show that three trains are hauling oil from North Dakota each week to a Columbia River shipping terminal in northwestern Oregon.
BNSF Railway now hauls nearly 20 trains per week of crude oil through the Pacific Northwest. Railroad workers and industry experts say that while railroads have gotten safer over the years, a culture remains that silences whistleblowers and prioritizes speed over safety.
BNSF Railway moves 15 or more trains per week of crude oil through 10 different counties in Washington, according to railroad notifications made public Tuesday.
BNSF Railway says it's not going to court to block Washington state from releasing oil train notification information under its public records law.
A review board recommends that the state of Oregon spend $4 millions to help expand a controversial crude oil and coal export dock at the Port of St. Helens near Clatskanie, Oregon.
Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are calling on the National Transportation Safety Board to review the sufficiency of the U.S. Department of Transportation's latest emergency order on oil trains.
The Northwest's two main freight rail operators are complying with a federal requirement to inform states about the North Dakota crude oil they're hauling -- but they want the states to keep the public from finding out by signing for non-disclosure agreements.
The Vancouver City Council formally takes a stance in opposition to building the Northwest's largest oil-by-rail shipping facility. Tuesday's early-morning vote on a non-binding resolution follows six hours of citizen testimony.
A Washington state study says the potential risks of an oil spill could spike if three marine terminals are built, bringing increased vessel traffic to Puget Sound.
Reductions in Oregon's state hazardous materials teams have left a gap in Central Oregon, where there was previously little need for hazmat response. Now railroads are carrying more and more crude oil, a classified hazardous material, through the region.
A growing number of oil trains are now moving south along Oregon's Deschutes River, presenting a new risk for oil spills along one of Oregon’s most iconic rivers and new safety concerns for communities in the region.
A fuel terminal along the Willamette River is now accepting train shipments of crude oil from Utah, making it Oregon’s second oil-by-rail destination, state officials confirmed Thursday.
Northwest emergency responders soon will receive more information about how much Bakken crude oil is moving by rail through their communities.
After the oil train derailment in Lynchburg, Virginia, last week, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation with a list of requests for improving oil train safety.
The Port of Vancouver on Wednesday released an updated version of its lease for the Northwest's largest oil-by-rail transfer terminal, featuring fewer censored details but maintaining redactions of key issues the port considers sensitive.
At a briefing held Tuesday at Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's request, oil train safety officials answered questions about preparing for and responding to derailments and spills.
As more oil trains move through the region, residents of one small city in Washington tell regulators they're concerned about the potential for a spill or explosion that could devastate their community and create an environmental catastrophe.
Environmental regulators in Washington state are expecting a lively crowd Thursday in the coastal city of Hoquiam, where the public gets a chance to weigh in about increased crude oil train traffic.
U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., visited Vancouver, Wash. this week and spoke against a proposed oil-by-rail terminal in the city, citing train safety concerns.
U.S. Sen Patty Murray, D-Wash., plans hearing on oil train safety while Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon and Maria Cantwell of Washington push for federal spending to speed up tank car retrofitting and increase rail inspections.
The Washington state board reviewing what would be the Northwest’s largest oil-by-rail terminal will undertake a sweeping analysis of the facility’s environmental effects — from the extraction of the oil to its ultimate consumption.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality imposes an unusually big fine against a crude oil terminal on the Columbia River that violated its air quality permit.
A majority of the Vancouver City Council now publicly opposes plans to build the Northwest's largest oil-handling facility at the Port of Vancouver.
Federal law allows railroads using industry-standard tank cars to avoid filing comprehensive response plans, and state regulators don't have authority to do so either -- nor are they likely to get it.
At a meeting between the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and BNSF Railway, the railroad explained its safety plans and explained why Vancouver is an attractive route for its trains carrying crude oil.
Have you been wondering about the Port of Portland's position on oil by rail? If so, you're not alone. The port responded to inquiries today, saying it might consider the idea one day – but not today.
Rail tank cars being used to ship crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken region are an "unacceptable public risk," and even cars voluntarily upgraded by the industry may not be sufficient, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday.
Several fiery derailments prompt the U.S. Department of Transportation issued an emergency order requiring crude oil from North Dakota and Montana to be tested before being transported by railroads.
A national fuel storage company has leased a former asphalt plant on the Willamette River with plans to use it as a rail and marine terminal for crude oil.
The Navy blames a failed pump for its spill of 2,000 gallons of oily wastewater in Puget Sound's Hood Canal. Containing the spill is like "chasing a ghost," a spokesman said.
In Olympia, state lawmakers are going down divergent tracks in how to respond to the rapid increase of crude oil trains crossing the region.
The Spokane City Council passed a resolution Monday night asking for more studies of oil trains and protections for the city.
Oregon's governor is calling for a review of oil train safety. The move follows a push by Washington's governor to bring greater scrutiny to the increasing volume of oil being transported by train.
Safer practices and better steel could have prevented a deadly explosion at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash., in 2010, according to a new report from the U.S. Chemical Safety Board.
Federal officials are recommending tougher state and federal oversight of oil refineries after investigating a 2010 explosion and fire at a Tesoro Corp. refinery in Anacortes that killed seven workers.
The figure often cited by the rail industry and proponents of oil by rail is not inaccurate, but there's more to the story.
U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley call on railroad company executives to address mounting concerns about oil train safety along the Columbia River.
The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is reviewing the spill contingency plan for the export terminal handling crude oil north of Clatskanie and offering the public its first glimpse of the plan.
Environmental groups in Washington are outlining their legislative goals for this 60-day upcoming session. One major focus: oil train safety.
A Clark County judge has given a partial victory to the Port of Vancouver in a lawsuit over a proposed oil terminal.
Only a small percentage of trains carrying hazardous materials are inspected as they move through Oregon and Washington. Safety advocates and legislators are more concerned about what federal regulations allow than the fewer than 1 percent of cars found with safety violations.
Northwesterners are paying attention to the fiery derailments hitting other parts of North America where the oil-by-rail boom is underway. State regulators here say they need more disclosure from railroad and oil companies to prepare for such oil-train mishaps.
Since fracking began in the Midwest in 2012, train cars filled with crude oil now roll right through the city of Pendleton to reach Portland. But the fiery images from three North American oil train derailments since July have sparked concern about the tank cars.
Just before New Years an oil train derailed and exploded in North Dakota. Now a federal agency has just issued a safety alert about the dangers of moving oil by train.
The state agency reviewing a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver piled up more than 31,000 comments before Wednesday's deadline passed.
A proposal to ship North Dakota crude oil by train to Vancouver mostly drew opponents to a public hearing Wednesday night in Spokane.
Vancouver city officials presented a draft document outlining Vancouver's concerns about a proposed oil terminal. The city will send its concerns to the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council as part of the environmental review scoping process.
Northwest emergency responders gather for some verbal role-playing when it comes to an oil spill -- an increasing possibility under the region's many oil-by-rail proposals. **(Updated Nov. 20)**
A state regulatory board is blocking approval of permits for two crude oil shipping terminals in Grays Harbor, Wash., saying backers have failed to address public safety and environmental issues.
The public has more time to comment on plans for an oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.
Northwest refineries are already accepting oil by rail, more and more of it with each passing month, coming in from the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota. Now, as the U.S. faces a domestic glut of oil production, Congress is debating allowing more oil exports.
About 300 people attended the first Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council hearing on the Tesoro-Savage oil terminal Tuesday.
Washington agencies are holding two public meetings Monday and Tuesday on a controversial oil terminal proposed for the Port of Vancouver.
The Port of Vancouver Commission re-voted to approve a lease for the Tesoro-Savage oil terminal Tuesday.
The Port Commission of Vancouver is holding a public meeting on Tuesday to reopen discussion on a controversial oil by rail terminal.
About a hundred people attended a community meeting on the Tesoro-Savage oil terminal in Vancouver Monday night.
The Washington State Auditor's Office will examine the Port of Vancouver's decision to bar the public from a discussion of a controversial oil terminal as part of its next regular review of the port in April 2014.
Three of the Northwest's proposed coal export terminals have been dropped by investors. Now, a train-to-oil project reaches a similar fate.
Representatives with Shell Oil will meet with officials from a county in Washington state to talk about expanding rail capacity to bring oil from North Dakota to the company's refinery on the shore of Puget Sound.
The Coast Guard says a 65-foot, Oregon-based fishing vessel has run aground four miles west of Valdez, Alaska.
An environmental group has filed a lawsuit alleging that hydroelectric dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers are illegally polluting water.
The Port of Vancouver has released copies of the lease agreement Port commissioners approved last week for a controversial oil terminal. The document wasn’t available to the public until Monday.
Hundreds of people came to the waterfront in Vancouver, Wash., Saturday for a sun-baked demonstration against the fossil fuel industry, and its projects in the Northwest.
The Port of Vancouver Commission voted unanimously today to approve a lease for a controversial oil terminal proposed by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies.
The Port of Vancouver Commission is scheduled to hold a workshop and a vote on a controversial oil terminal lease this week. The workshop is scheduled for Monday night, and the vote is on the commission's agenda for Tuesday morning.
A deadly Quebec oil-train explosion has given pause to Port of Vancouver commissioners in southwest Washington. They want to rethink their next move with a proposal for a terminal to move oil from trains onto ships.
The weekend's deadly oil-train derailment and explosion in the Canadian province of Quebec has raised concerns in the Pacific Northwest, where there are several proposals to increase the amount of oil transported into to the region by train.
More Washington state oil refineries are preparing to accept crude oil shipments from North Dakota.
Oil refiner Tesoro and a terminal operating company named Savage detailed plans Thursday for the biggest crude oil shipping terminal to be proposed in the Northwest.
Pacific Northwest refineries have been getting their crude oil for years from tankers and pipelines. Last September, trains began shipping crude oil into the region by rail.
The Port of Vancouver in southwest Washington could start handling crude oil from North Dakota under an agreement announced Monday.
The Port of Grays Harbor is holding a public workshop Wednesday in Aberdeen on proposals for trains to deliver crude oil to an export terminal.
Just as Washington environmental regulators finish up a series of meetings on oil spill readiness, a half-mile sheen appeared on the Columbia River near Longview. Contractors quickly contained the diesel spill this week. It's one of about 1,800 spills in Oregon and Washington each year.
There are more problems for the oil-spill containment barge being built on the Bellingham, Wash, waterfront. Coast Guard officials say Shell Oil's Arctic Challenger has caused several small spills of its own in the past few weeks.
Bret A. Simpson pleaded guilty Thursday in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to two criminal violations of the Clean Water Act for spilling oil in the Columbia River.
The end is in sight for a derelict vessel that has been moored to a publicly owned dock for the past three months.
Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire fly over the Columbia and Willamette rivers Friday to get a bird's eye view of the derelict and abandoned vessels languishing in those waters. **UPDATE (Friday p.m.):** Kitzhaber and Gregoire return from flyover with reaction.
We take a look at derelict and abandoned vessels in the waters of the Northwest -- and how states are coping with the environmental hazards associated with them.
The U.S. Coast Guard and its contractors spent 10 months and $22 million removing the Davy Crockett barge from the Columbia River in 2011. Workers prevented a major environmental disaster, but an EarthFix investigation has found that state and federal officials could have prevented an oil spill and the need for a multi-million-dollar cleanup.
Every year more than 300 tons of petroleum ends up in Puget Sound. Much of it gets there in drips and drabs – from small spills or fuel leaks at the local marina to leaky tailpipes on city streets - and it's compromising the ability of fish to survive in the wild. Read part II of our Oil in the Northwest series.
Every year, vessels carry more than [15 billion](http://www.ecy.wa.gov/programs/spills/studies_reports/ecypspreview-dwhcommissionreport.html "") of gallons of oil and fuel through Pacific Northwest waters, putting Washington and Oregon at constant risk of spills that could cripple parts of their economies and devastate marine life and environmentally sensitive shorelines.