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Following Oil Train Derailment, Feds Tell Union Pacific To Improve Track Inspections

December 23, 2016

The Federal Railroad Administration is requiring Union Pacific railroad to increase its inspections and the quality of its track maintenance. 

The agreement announced Friday comes in response to a fiery oil train derailment in June in the Columbia River Gorge.

Under the agreement, Union Pacific will need to increase track inspections to twice per week.

The railroad will also need inspectors to walk key sections of track four times per year – something the FRA did not require prior to the June 3rd derailment.

They’ll also be required to retrain track inspectors and inventory sections of rail across its network, similar to the kind that failed in June. 

The FRA blamed Union Pacific for the derailment, saying it was caused by broken screws that hold the rail track in place.

Sixteen cars carrying crude oil derailed and caused a fire that burned for 14 hours. It also closed Interstate 84, forced the evacuation of about 100 people in the town of Mosier and left a small oil sheen on the Columbia River.

Under the agreement, Union Pacific – not the FRA – will be responsible for completing the inspections.

In a statement, FRA administrator Sarah Feinberg said the new agreement requires Union Pacific to go beyond existing regulations.

“FRA’s highest priority is to keep people and communities safe," she said.

The railroad did not immediately return a request for comment.


Crews subdued the fire from the oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon, by the morning of Saturday, June 4, 2016. Cleanup on the oil spill and charred rail cars continued into the weekend.

Emily Schwing