The dozens of tanker cars filled with liquefied petroleum gas sitting on Portland & Western Railroad tracks along U.S. Highway 20 between Albany and Corvallis earlier this year have been moved.
Thomas Fuller of the Oregon Department of Transportation says the undisclosed company leasing the track apparently asked for the cars to be delivered for unloading.
The railcars, of which there were 60 or more, were parked for months on a siding near Garland Nursery, southwest of the highway's intersection with Northeast Granger Avenue. The siding was leased by Portland & Western to a third party to store the cars.
A reader contacted the newspaper last spring over concerns about the cars being stored in the vicinity of homes and farms. Railroad officials insisted they posed no risk to the general public.
“The way it typically works is a company leases track to store cars until they are ready to unload the product wherever that may be,” Fuller said in an email this week, adding that federal law prohibits ODOT from disclosing the location, movement or type of cargo.
Department of Transportation placards on the cars were labeled 1075, with a flammable symbol. The number denotes flammable substances — including butane, propane and liquefied petroleum gas — and designates cars that are or recently were carrying the substances and have yet to be cleaned out.
Some of the cars near Highway 20 were labeled with the words “non-odorized liquefied petroleum gas.”
A railroad representative said in the spring that safety concerns were unfounded.
“There is no more risk to the public than exists anyplace else across North America’s rail network, where more than 99.999% of all hazardous material reaches its destination without a release caused by an incident,” said Michael Williams, vice president of corporate communications for Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Inc., in an email. “Safety is the first priority of everyone at the Portland & Western, and if these railcars could not be stored safely, then they would not be on the railroad.”
Genesee & Wyoming Railroad Inc., based in Connecticut, is the parent company of the Portland & Western Railroad, Inc., which lists an address on Howard Drive in southeast Albany on its website.
Jesse Sowa can be reached via email at email@example.com or on Twitter, @JesseSowaGT.