Crews in Mosier have completed transloading all oil from derailed tank cars off-site. A total of 13 cars involved in Friday’s derailment were offloaded. The recovered oil was transferred by truck to The Dalles and is now staged for transport by rail to Tacoma, its original destination, at a date to be determined. As of Wednesday morning, crews have cleaned and decontaminated all of the derailed cars, and moved two of them from the site. The empty tanker cars are being transported by truck to Portland, a process that should continue through the end of the week. Once the rail cars have been removed, crews will begin removing contaminated soil and continue other environmental cleanup and monitoring activities. Meanwhile, various groups continue to protest oil trains coming through the Gorge. The Hood River City Council reiterated a resolution it had earlier passed in opposition. Today, clergy from the Columbia River Gorge, including Members of Gorge Ecumenical Ministries and the Mount Adams Ministerial Association, gathered to express their support for the City of Mosier’s call to stop train traffic through the site of Friday’s oil train derailment until the cause of the accident is determined. And representatives of Northwest tribes will gather in Mosier tomorrow to say the incident risks their fishing rights.
Hood River City Councilors began to look at operational regulations for short-term rentals at a special meeting Tuesday evening. Councilors reviewed a preliminary draft that will come back to them at their June 27 meeting at the earliest. The fee to register STR’s will be set by resolution rather than ordinance, but City Manager Steve Wheeler says right now a figure between $200 and $250 is being considered. These regulations would be regardless of where an STR is located, but there is still a question of how far the Council can go with these until decisions are made on the zoning issues of where STR’s are allowed. Those deliberations stalled in a split vote last month, with the Council establishing an up to six month moratorium on all new STR’s in residential zones while attempts are made to find agreement.
A bill authored by Oregon Congressmen Greg Walden and Earl Blumenauer to force the U.S. Forest Service to complete the Mt. Hood Cooper Spur Land Exchange passed the House by a vote of 401-2. The bill directs the Forest Service to move forward with the underlying land exchange first approved by Congress in 2009. The 2009 law authorizes a land exchange to allow development of 120 acres of federal land in Government Camp in exchange for 770 acres of non-federal land at Cooper Spur and stated that the Forest Service should complete the exchange within 16 months. The bill passed Wednesday restates Congress’ intent that the Forest Service move quickly to complete the exchange, addresses disagreements over a conservation easement, and allows for a more transparent appraisal process. Identical legislation introduced in the Senate by Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley was passed by that body in April as part of a broader energy and resources bill.
It will be a busy summer for paving on Interstate 84 through the Gorge. The Oregon Department of Transportation will be repaving on three stretches from June to September: from Mosier to The Dalles, Cascade Locks to Hood River, and the Sandy River to Multnomah Falls. ODOT spokesman Don Hamilton says the work is being planned to keep traffic disruptions to a minimum, with most work at night and closures limited to single lanes. The sections of Interstate 84 have not been paved in a decade. In September, work will begin on rockfall repair at milepost 61 west of Hood River, site of a major slide in February 2014. More information on the projects are available at i84construction.org.
Officials in The Dalles are again reminding citizens of the importance of removing puncture vine on private and public properties as well as controlling vegetation growth during the hottest part of the season to reduce fire threats to all properties. Puncture vine, commonly known as goatheads, is a noxious weed that spreads incredibly fast and produces very sharp seeds. When stepped on, they are painful to both animals and people. They are sharp enough to puncture bicycle and wheel chair tires. The City is working to get the weed under control at targeted public properties with severe puncture vine, but is asking the home and business owners in our community to be proactive in removing puncture vine before it spreads, along with managing vegetation growth to reduce fire risks.
The 100th birthday of the Historic Columbia River Highway was marked with ceremonies on Tuesday at Vista House and Multnomah Falls. Kristen Stallman of the Oregon Department of Transportation says the route showed how roadbuilding could be done with nature and scenic beauty in mind. The two-lane highway is now divided into different segments, some of which are accessible only by foot and bicycle. Only 10 miles of the highway still need to be completed for the entire 73-mile stretch to be totally reconnected. Two additional miles of the State Trail, between Lindsey and Starvation Creeks, will open this September, and three more miles between Wyeth and Lindsey Creek will open in 2018. 32 to 35 million dollars in funding still needs to be raised to finish the final five miles.
Clean-up of Friday’s train derailment in Mosier continues. The Mosier Incident Command Center reported today that a significant amount of oil from derailed cars was removed overnight and crews could have all of the oil transloaded off-site by day’s end. Crews had transloaded more than 65 truckloads of recovered oil by this morning. It’s estimated that about 25 more truck loads remain. The oil is being transferred to tanker trucks and transported to The Dalles, where it is being staged until resuming its trip to Tacoma. Once all of the oil is transloaded, crews will begin removing the damaged rail cars. Interstate 84 Exit 69 at Mosier has been reopened.
North Wasco County School District 21 officials are calling the results of a survey of community attitudes around the perception and vision for schools and the district very positive. The survey by Patinkin Research Strategies of 300 likely D-21 voters found 62 percent had a positive opinion of the quality of education in the district, while 55 percent said they would be willing to pay more to repair or replace aging facilities. D-21 Superintendent Candy Armstrong says the results were much better than a similar survey conducted seven years ago, and believes the voting community wants to be a part of the district preparing for the future. Armstrong said messages from the survey also showed voters want the district to be transparent and accountable, and to take care of the basic needs when it comes to facilities, especially in regard to safety and overcrowding. She says the next task for the district is to continue the community conversation to shape the specifics of what should be included in a bond measure in the near future, and staff will need to refine those priorities into a detailed form.
The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service June Water Supply Outlook indicates June through September streamflow forecasts in the Hood, Sandy, and Lower Deschutes basins range from 69 to 71 percent of average. NRCS Snow Survey Supervisor Scott Oviatt says early snowmelt resulted in streamflows peaking sooner and beginning to recede to mid-summer levels up to four weeks early. However, he says water year precipitation has been at 111 percent of average in the basins, boosting reservoir levels that were at near record lows at the end of last summer and painting a much better picture for water supply this year. But Oviatt says if the summer is hot and increases demand, water users drawing from reservoir sources could still experience possible water shortages. As of June 1, only two monitored sites in the basins still have snow, which is not unusual for this time of year, but due to warm spring temperatures, most sites melted out 1 to 3 weeks earlier than normal.
Guardrail repair work on the Hood River/White Salmon Interstate Bridge has been completed ahead of schedule. Single lane closures planned for today and tomorrow have been cancelled. About 260 feet of guardrail was damaged by an unknown large vehicle on Thursday afternoon.