By Renee Lewis / Source Fusion
MOSIER, Oregon — “We were here working when suddenly we heard a ‘POW’ and we thought it was an earthquake,” said Yun Choi, owner of Mosier Market in Mosier, OR, a town of about 400 located in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.
In June, a train carrying highly flammable Bakken crude derailed, causing more than a dozen cars to explode on tracks just hundreds of feet from Choi’s storefront.
“I was really scared because the oil train was laying on the rails,” Choi said. “We didn’t know if the rest of the tanks would blow.”
The derailment in the small, wooded town wasn’t a worst-case scenario. It wasn’t as bad as Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, where in 2013 a train carrying the same type of oil derailed, exploded, and destroyed the city’s downtown, killing 47 people.
Still, Mosier was evacuated, forcing Choi and her husband to abandon their home and store for several days. Because much of the spilled oil went into the city’s wastewater system, rather than the river, Mosier’s groundwater is still contaminated from the oil, the town’s Mayor Arlene Burns said.