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Oil train derails in Oregon

Oil train derails in Oregon

Multiple tanker cars of an oil train derailed Friday in Oregon, causing a fire and a large plume of black smoke.

The derailment happened near Mosier, Ore., in the Columbia River Gorge, an important natural area where protesters say oil trains shouldn't be allowed, the Oregonian reported.

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The incident is the latest in a string of high-profile oil train derailments and fires.

Spurred by an explosion that killed 47 people in Quebec in July 2013, among other disasters, regulators in the United States and Canada have tried to improve oil train safety.

The amount of oil being moved by rail has grown dramatically in recent years, due mainly to a large increase in domestic oil production in both countries.

A federal regulation made final last year set new standards for tank car design and operation, but old cars will remain in service for years, to the chagrin of environmental and safety advocates.

In the Friday derailment, eight cars on a train operated by Union Pacific left the tracks, according to Oregon TV station KOIN, and at least one caught fire. The smoke plume was visible from miles away.

A nearby school was evacuated, along with residents in a half-mile radius, and roads were shut down as nearby and federal authorities responded.