Wyden, Merkley Call on National Transportation Safety Board to More Closely Examine Future Oil Train Derailments

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley today called on the National Transportation Safety Board to investigate future oil train derailments in order to find ways to better prevent such accidents.

In their June 9 letter to NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart, the senators expressed their concern that the safety board did not fulfill its unique safety mission or provide its transportation expertise when it declined to investigate the cause of the train derailment near Mosier, Oregon on June 3. The derailment endangered residents and the environment, and forced the evacuation of at least 100 households nearby. 

“We were troubled to learn that after the recent crude-by-rail accident in Mosier, Oregon, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) decided against sending an investigative team to the site,” the senators wrote in the letter.

“The NTSB would have brought a vital perspective to investigations being carried out by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and Oregon Department of Transportation,” they also wrote.

Wyden and Merkley also pushed the safety board to include Oregon representation at an upcoming NTSB roundtable on tank car safety scheduled for July 13 in Washington, DC.

Additionally, they requested more information about possible next steps Congress can take to improve oil train safety.

Finally, the senators asked for the status of past recommendations the NTSB has made regarding notification for first responders and railroad track standards. The senators included those recommendations in their bill, the Hazardous Materials Transportation Safety Improvement Act, which they introduced last year.

Read today’s letter here


In response to a 2014 request from Wyden and Merkley, the NTSB stated that first responders need more timely and detailed information about crude-by-rail trains in order to better protect communities.

Earlier this year, Wyden and Merkley were joined by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Robert P. Casey, Jr., D-Pa., in introducing an amendment to provide greater transparency about flammable liquids traveling by train, in a broad energy bill the Senate was considering. The amendment was not included in the bill that passed the Senate in April.