Wyden, Merkley to Rail Officials: Halt Hazardous Materials Transport in Gorge While Wildfires Burn

Wyden, Merkley to Rail Officials: Halt Hazardous Materials Transport in Gorge While Wildfires Burn

Washington, DC  –  U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today urged Burlington Northern Santa Fe to cease the rail transport of hazardous materials through the Columbia Gorge while wildfires there are active and the threat remains of flash flooding and rockslides.

The Oregon lawmakers’ letter to Burlington Northern Santa Fe CEO Matthew Rose comes as the Eagle Creek Fire and Archer Mountain Fire continue to burn and smolder in the Columbia River Gorge, near BNSF tracks.

“These tragic events have forced evacuations of towns and homes, and endangered lives and infrastructure near these fires,” Wyden and Merkley wrote. “We were pleased to see BNSF take immediate action after the Eagle Creek Fire began, and temporarily stop all train traffic through the Gorge.

“However, we are concerned that prematurely resuming service and the movement of oil, or other hazardous materials, by train while the fires are still burning, could put local communities at further risk of harm,” they wrote, noting they are conveying concerns they have heard firsthand from Gorge constituents.  “We request that BNSF postpone movements of oil trains and trains carrying other hazardous materials through the Columbia River Gorge while there are active wildfires and the ongoing concern of flash flooding and rockslides.”

A copy of the senators’ letter is here