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Oregon Dems push for more federal inspections at derailment site

Oregon Dems push for more federal inspections at derailment site

Oregon’s two Democratic senators are pushing a federal safety board to join the investigation into last week’s oil trail derailment in their state. 

In a letter to the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Sens. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenFCC to move forward with considering executive order targeting tech's liability shield Top Democrats call for watchdog to review Trump Medicare drug cards On The Money: Trump says talks on COVID-19 aid are now 'working out' | Pelosi shoots down piecemeal approach | Democrats raise questions about Trump tax audits MORE and Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by The Air Line Pilots Association - Trump, Biden renew push for Latino support Sunday shows - Trump team defends coronavirus response Oregon senator says Trump's blame on 'forest management' for wildfires is 'just a big and devastating lie' MORE said officials from the agency “would have brought a vital perspective to investigations being carried out by the Federal Railroad Administration and Oregon Department of Transportation.”

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The letter comes amid probes into the derailment of 14 cars in an oil trail outside of Mosier, Ore. on June 3. Several of the cars caught fire after the accident. 

The NTSB should investigate the crash, they wrote, because it involved oil trains. Since those trains have a history of accidents, they show “problems of a recurring character,” and are within the NTSB’s purview. 

“We feel strongly that the residents of Mosier, Oregonians and residents on both sides of the Columbia River deserve to know exactly why this accident occurred and how to prevent future accents from occurring,” the senators wrote. 

“We call on the NTSB to investigate major oil train derailments going forward in order to identify every facet of the accident’s cause, and work to prevent, not just mitigate, the potential devastation.”

In response to the incident, Wyden and Merkley this week said lawmakers should pass a bill to help local communities reroute rail lines away from heavily populated areas.

Other officials in the state called for a moratorium on oil trains in the Columbia River Gorge as a result of the derailment.

Christopher O’Neil, an NTSB spokesman, said the board decided not to launch an investigation after gathering information from the Federal Railroad Administration, the train operator and local first responders. 

But he said the agency is “actively collecting information” which will “be assessed to determine whether further safety recommendations are necessary.”

“The NTSB recognizes the impact of this accident, or any rail accident involving hazardous materials, in environmentally sensitive areas and in proximity to residential, commercial and recreational areas, and understands the concerns of those affected,” he said.

—Updated at 4:50 p.m.