Six months after a Union Pacific train hauling Bakken crude oil derailed in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, state agencies in Washington and Oregon, residents of the tiny town of Mosier, Ore., and others affected by the fiery crash are in the midst of tabulating a bill to send to the railroad.
Painting a comprehensive picture of the economic and environment toll of the derailment is a daunting task, in part because Union Pacific is not required to disclose costs associated with its cleanup efforts or even how much its insurance policy will cover.
So far, an email obtained by The Columbian revealed that Union Pacific has estimated its costs associated with the Mosier derailment at about $8.9 million. The railroad reported $1.7 million in equipment damage and $176,811 in track damage to the Federal Railroad Administration, with the remaining millions carved out as response and remediation costs.
By most accounts, the region narrowly avoided catastrophe that June afternoon. And although the numbers will likely increase, Union Pacific is expected to foot the bill.
But some, including Eric de Place, a policy director with the Sightline Institute, a Seattle-based nonprofit that supports sustainability issues, said the lack of transparency puts towns and cities along the rail line in a vulnerable position. He pointed to the 2013 derailment in Quebec, which killed 47 people and caused billions in damage. The railroad filed bankruptcy and the cost of rebuilding went to Canadian taxpayers.