Trains operating on Union Pacific Railroad lines through Lewis and Thurston counties could be carrying 1 million gallons of Bakken crude oil weekly, according to a notification issued in early December and highlighted by Lewis County Emergency Management last week.
The rail line previously didn’t report transporting that much oil per train.
The notification by Union Pacific is required by a U.S. Department of Transportation emergency order. The order calls for rail lines to issue public notices in each state where it operates trains carrying 1 million gallons or more of oil from the Bakken oil fields in Montana and North Dakota.
According to its notification released Dec. 9, Union Pacific began running the trains in November.
Union Pacific lines expect no more than one train per week carrying 1 million gallons of oil or more to pass through Lewis and Thurston counties. Most trains are enroute to the Portland-Vancouver area.
Union Pacific issued a notification in June 2014, stating the company did not transport enough Bakken crude oil to meet the threshold at that time.
Burlington Northern Santa Fe’s last notification was released in September, stating it was transporting an estimated 10 to 18 trains carrying 1 million gallons or more of Bakken oil through Thurston and Lewis counties.
Lewis County Director of Emergency Management Steve Mansfield said many people are concerned about the crude oil traveling through the area, but that first responders prepare for any emergency incident that could occur.
“This is a huge threat for them, and that’s why we try to train and work together as much as possible,” Mansfield said.
If a significant derailment or oil train accident occurred that overwhelmed county resources, he said there are plans in place to include state and federal responders as well.