Letters to the Editor for July 7, 2015

Lac-Megantic oil train disaster remembered

This week marks the anniversary of the tragic oil train disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec that killed 47 people on July 6, 2013.

Two years later, Lac-Megantic is still recovering while dangerous Bakken oil is being transported through our community in the same unsafe rail cars that failed to protect the residents of Lac-Megantic. Meanwhile, oil train accidents with massive explosions and fires continue across the country.

For example, in a three-week span this year, four oil trains derailed in North America spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil, polluting waterways and forcing evacuations of hundreds of people. Firefighters were forced to let the fires burn while concentrating on evacuating residents in the area.

As a reality check on the severity of an oil train derailment and fire, Keith Brown, former Skamania County fire commissioner in the Columbia River Gorge, put it this way, “The only thing you can do with these oil train fires is evacuate people. My concern is we would have a catastrophe similar to the Yacolt Burn, the worst fire in Washington history, that burned 239,000 acres, killed 35 people and devastated Skamania County and eastern Clark County.”

In 2014, the Washington Fire Chiefs association passed a resolution calling on Gov. Jay Inslee to do all in his power to halt the transport of crude oil by rail until it is determined that it can be moved safely through our cities and rural areas. In 2015, the City of Stevenson joined cities across the state in urging our governor to help make oil train safety a top priority. We want more public information, proven oil spill prevention measures and financial preparedness and protection. We simply can’t afford an oil spill in the Columbia River.

While the governor’s authority over the operations of the railroads is limited, the governor does have the last say in authorizing permits for large oil-by-rail terminals and ensuring that all the impacts are thoroughly reviewed before considering a project. The best way to limit the likelihood of an accident in the Columbia Gorge is to say no to the crude-by-rail terminal proposals in Washington that threaten our communities and our quality of life.

Columbia Gorge community members are speaking out against oil terminals. Our community, including pastors, doctors, nurses, farmers, business owners, students, teachers and grandparents have been working hard to stop dangerous oil terminals and the trains that feed them. Together we need to stand up to these threats and protect our community.

Find out how you can get engaged by contacting Stand Up To Oil. We can stop Stevenson and The Gorge from becoming the next Lac-Megantic. Visit www.standuptooil.org.

Monica Masco and Amy Weissfeld, Stevenson city councilors

A spectacular display in Camas

Just a note of thanks to those of you who provided a spectacular fireworks display in and around the Brady Road area, as well as those at the top of Prune Hill.

I watched from the top of my third floor home looking east from Whitman Street, and had an excellent panoramic view of your generous supply of wonderfully unplanned, orchestrated fireworks displays. One was on 11th Circle.

Seemed wonderful beyond wonderful this year to not be forced to hear the loud sounds days before July 4. I do believe because of the order sent out, Independence Day actually had more meaning for a lot of us this year.

Proud to be an American was in full force the evening of July 4, or at least in the Camas area.

Dori Harston, Camas