PORTLAND (AP) — The volume of oil hauled on railroads in Oregon increased last year to more than 11 million barrels — a dramatic increase from about 3 million barrels in 2012, reports to the state show.
Not long ago, almost no oil moved on railroads in the state — just 659 tank carloads in 2007. The 2013 shipments came in 19,065 tank cars.
BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad reported the figures to the Oregon Department of Transportation.
The reports from BNSF and Union Pacific provide the best estimate to date of how much oil is moving around Oregon. Most is brought into the state by BNSF in Portland, bound for an oil-train terminal near Clatskanie that loads it onto barges bound for West Coast refineries.
But millions of barrels move elsewhere, passing through the Columbia River Gorge, Salem, Eugene, Bend and Klamath Falls.
Oil-train shipments through the Northwest are expected to grow as they carry crude from the oil boom in North Dakota, and environmentalists and rail safety regulators have scrambled to catch up with the phenomenon.
A terminal proposed for the Port of Vancouver could handle up to 380,000 barrels a day — nearly 140 million barrels a year.
The North Dakota crude is far more flammable than traditional crude, and critics have called for replacing the tank cars with safer models.