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Residents upset after Union Pacific resumes train operations through Mosier, Oregon

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A June 3 oil train derailment and explosion in Oregon's Columbia River Gorge sent 16 cars off the tracks. Four cars caught fire, sending 42,000 gallons of crude into the ground and the air. (KPTV)

MOSIER, Ore. (KPTV) — Trains are running through Mosier once again after Friday’s oil train derailment and explosion.

Sixteen cars came off the tracks and four caught fire, sending 42,000 gallons of crude into the ground and the air.

Union Pacific trains are rolling through Mosier again just a few feet away from the damaged rail cars involved in Friday’s derailment.

Union Pacific said a third-party inspected the repaired rail line, and plans to resume operations were approved by incident commanders.

“Everything is safe for us to move forward, otherwise we wouldn’t be doing it, and we want the people of Mosier to know that,” said Racquel Espinoza, Union Pacific spokesperson.

Of the 13 cars still sitting near the tracks, only two have been emptied of crude. Tarps are sitting under some others to prevent oil from getting into the ground, and operations to empty the rest of the cars were stopped Monday morning when more oil was discovered at the wastewater treatment plant, where 10,000 gallons has already been recovered.

The Department of Environmental Quality estimates a total of 42,000 gallons of crude was released in the crash, with about half seeping into the ground and the other half burning off in the fire.

While VIP’s like Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek toured the site Monday, the decision to resume rail traffic isn’t sitting well with people who live near the crash site.

“Why couldn’t they wait until they clean it up. At least give our town a few days to recover. This is drastic for people,” said Lisa Bloomster.

Bloomster is one of the people living closest to the crash site. Her home is only about 50 yards away and heard the explosion on Friday.

“It was really scary. I really thought my house was going to burn down, for sure. I really thought that.”

Union Pacific said the trains that are now running through are not carrying oil but other mixed goods, like cars, clothes and electronics.

“We have thousands of companies that are waiting for their goods and we are doing the best we can to support them, but never taking our focus off of the people of Mosier,” said Espinoza.

The Union Pacific spokesperson told FOX 12 “they deeply apologize” for what has happened.

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