Officials ask Wyden for help on oil trains – Senator says more funding needed for hazardous materials response

Fire officials from across Oregon told Sen. Ron Wyden on Friday they do not have enough money to prepare for an oil train accident.

Wyden, D-Ore., met with first responders and federal and state officials in Bend on Friday to learn what Central Oregon needs in order to be ready for an emergency, after recent media reports revealed the number of crude oil tanker cars transported through the region increased by 58 percent from 2011 to 2013. The closest specially trained and equipped team of firefighters that can handle a hazardous material spill is in Salem, so it would take roughly three hours for them to arrive if there were an oil train derailment in Bend.

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More oil trains rolling through Central Oregon

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A conservation group that has raised concerns about the huge increase in crude oil rail shipments through the Columbia River Gorge is now warning that oil train traffic is increasing through Central Oregon.

The number of tank cars transporting oil through downtown Bend and other cities east of the Cascades increased by 58 percent from 2011 to 2013, according to information released by the Oregon Department of Transportation on Wednesday.

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