Regulate flammable oil and LNG trains in Bend!

City Council and Mayor of Bend

Residents of Bend: Please sign a petition to the Mayor and the City Council!

The number of oil trains through Oregon and the Pacific Northwest is increasing. State agencies are not always notified of the increase. (OPB) Much of the oil comes from out of state or out of the country, and is headed overseas; Oregon residents are exposed to the risks involved in transporting this fuel while seeing very few of the benefits. Oregon’s laws are currently the weakest on the West Coast, making us the path of least resistance. The Trump administration issued an executive order in April of 2019 which will start allowing liquefied natural gas (LNG) by rail in the continental US, adding to the number of potentially dangerous and explosive trains traveling through towns and cities in Oregon.

In 2016, a train carrying 96 tanks cars of Bakken crude oil derailed in the town of Mosier, Oregon. Sixteen of the cars derailed; three caught fire and four began leaking oil. Fire departments from all over Oregon and Washington responded to the scene, 147 residents of a nearby neighborhood were evacuated, and there were fortunately no fatalities. The small town of Lac-Megantic in Quebec fared much worse; an oil train derailed as it was going through town, killing 47 people and devastating the downtown area. The cost of the Mosier incident is estimated to be close to $9 million, and Union Pacific is not disclosing how much of that was covered by insurance. In Quebec, the railroad declared bankruptcy in the face of billions of dollars in cleanup and rebuilding expenses, leaving taxpayers and residents to cover the cost of restoring their town.

Bend is a city of over 90.000 people, and the railroad goes right through the downtown district and other busy neighborhoods. Many businesses, residences and high-traffic streets, including the parkway, are near the tracks, as well as schools, houses of worship, parks and recreation centers. The nearest response equipment for a derailment involving highly flammable fuel is in Redmond, 20 minutes away. The derailment of a train carrying oil or LNG within the city limits of Bend would be catastrophic, and the costs of response, clean-up and rebuilding could be in the billions of dollars. Taxpayers and residents should not, and in many cases could not afford to, pay the price for such a disaster.

Please sign the petition below asking that the city council pass an ordinance requiring railroads and transport companies take responsibility for this dangerous cargo – by giving first responders 24 hours notice for every shipment of oil or LNG coming through the city by rail, by carrying insurance equal to the cost of a worst-case derailment, explosion or spill, and by carrying a surety bond obligating them to pay the cost of response and cleanup after any such derailment.  Thank you for making your voice heard! (editorial)

Sponsored by

To: City Council and Mayor of Bend
From: [Your Name]

The number of trains carrying highly flammable petroleum products by rail through communities in Oregon and the Pacific Northwest has been increasing, and a recent executive order from the White House opens the door for liquefied natural gas (LNG) to be transported by rail as well. Railroads have failed to notify appropriate state agencies of the increase in oil trains, undermining effective planning for a response to a spill or derailment. Residents of Bend have the right to safety of their persons and property. In our city, the tracks run through busy and highly developed neighborhoods, including the dense downtown area, posing a danger to residences, schools, businesses, houses of worship, and traffic on the streets and the parkway. Disaster response and cleanup efforts could easily total in the millions or even billions of dollars.

A response team is in Redmond, 20 minutes away. It is questionable how much damage could be contained in a multicar explosion, with response teams facing a massive fire and explosive environment that threatens everyone within a mile radius or more. The federal government and the State of Oregon do not provide the safety, health and financial standards necessary to protect the residents of Bend. After the 2013 oil train explosion in Quebec, the railroad declared bankruptcy and left taxpayers with billions of dollars in cleanup and rebuilding costs.

The taxpayers and residents should not be on the hook for the cost of a derailment, spill or explosion; these costs should be born by the railroad and the oil companies transporting dangerous and flammable petroleum products. We the undersigned ask the city council to adopt an ordinance requiring any corporation transporting oil or liquefied natural gas by rail through our community to carry insurance equal to the cost of a worst-case spill or fire, and to carry a surety bond obligating them to pay the cost of response and cleanup, and disclose the dangerous cargo to first responders with at least 24 hours notice.