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During the tour, Chip Smith (right), Assistant for Environment, Tribal and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Assistant Secretary for Army Civil Works; and JR Inglis, Corps of Engineers Tribal Liaison, Portland District, dug down to find the depth of the coal debris along the tracks. In some places, they found debris 4 to 6 inches deep.

During the tour, Chip Smith (right), Assistant for Environment, Tribal and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Assistant Secretary for Army Civil Works; and JR Inglis, Corps of Engineers Tribal Liaison, Portland District, dug down to find the depth of the coal debris along the tracks. In some places, they found debris 4 to 6 inches deep.

On a tour of the Columbia River last month, CRITFC Executive Director Paul Lumley and Corps of Engineers representatives stopped at Columbia Hills State Park. Here they discovered a tremendous amount of coal and coal dust from trains that travel along the river there. The contamination is very serious, widespread, and much more than would be expected from the few trains that pass daily.

This oil train passing by The Dalles Dam was pulling 110 cars. It was over a mile long and was carrying 3.3 million gallons of crude oil.

This oil train passing by The Dalles Dam was pulling 110 cars. It was over a mile long and was carrying 3.3 million gallons of crude oil.

The tracks these coal and oil trains run on are often just a few yards of the Columbia River as they travel the length of the Columbia Gorge. This poses a significant risk should one derail, as they are carrying extremely large loads that would have the potential to create an environmental disaster should the contents end up in the river. Many coal and oil trains traveling along the Columbia River pull more than 100 cars.

CRITFC and the tribes are continually monitoring this situation and are actively working to protect the Columbia River and its fisheries from the dangers of high capacity fossil fuel transport.

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