As crews worked to clean up overturned oil tanker cars and answer questions about the cause of Friday’s train derailment in Mosier, Oregon, the Hood River community gathered to protest oil transport by rail.
Drivers honked their car horns in support of a large crowd that wielded signs at a demonstration organized by environmental groups. Before the crowd marched through the streets, they listened to speeches from community leaders.
“There are a lot of risks that we take in Mosier, that I have taken, that our family has taken,” Mosier City Council Member Emily Reed said. She believes transporting crude oil through the Columbia River Gorge is extremely dangerous. Her eight-year-old son, Gus was among the elementary school students evacuated from Mosier Community School after the Union Pacific Train derailed.
“The town itself could have been levelled,” Reed said. “So we are very, very very lucky.”
Regna Merritt is the Healthy Climate program director for Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility.
“Diesel particulate matter can kill and this is the worst kind of known particulate matter,” Merritt said. “It contains benzene, a known carcinogen, and toluene, and the list goes on.”
The majority of people who took part in the protest wore bright red t-shirts and carried hand-made signs.
Eric Strid, from White Salmon, Washington, carried a sign that read “Wind, Solar, Electric Vehicles.”
“I see an energy revolution, but it’s being drowned out by incumbent industries,” Strid said.
Another protester, Charlene Imotta from Hood River said she was walking along the trail near where the derailment happened with her daughter about two weeks ago.
“So thank God the derailment didn’t happen while we were there,” Imotta said.
Dave Berger lives a few miles upstream from the derailment site, near Lyle in Klickitat County, Washington.
“I’m sort of not affiliated with any group, but with them all. I’m an environmental activist,” Berger said. “Really, when you think about patriotism, we can use American technology in a really patriotic way that creates a lot more jobs and creates a lot less danger for people.”
And with that, Berger fell in step with the rest of the crowd as they took off chanting and marching down the hill along one of Hood River’s main streets.