NW Portland: 100 people gathered in protest this afternoon at Arc Logistics, Portland’s only crude oil-by-rail terminal. Five activists risked arrest by sitting directly on the rail tracks to prevent an oil train from reaching the oil terminal. Information leaked from a worker at the facility revealed that due the controversial protest, oil shipments had been halted for the day. Protesters, including those blocking the tracks have dispersed peacefully.
Crude oil trains have caused a great deal of controversy across the county. Nearly a dozen derailments have occurred in the past two years, many ending in fireball explosions that have killed 47 people and caused hundreds of millions in property damage. Event organizers say these trains represent an unacceptable threat to our communities: risking explosive train derailments, dangerous spills and leaks, degrading air quality, and destabilizing the climate.
“I am an obstetrician, gynecologist with a degree in public health. I have devoted my career to protecting mothers and babies and worked internationally in almost 40 countries. I have taught at Harvard and Stanford. The importance of these efforts now pales,” said Kelly O’Hanley, MD, MPH, one of the five activists willing to risk arrest if an oil train attempted to enter Arc Logistics. “I have never gone to jail but the specter of climate change has moved me out of my clinic, out of the hospital and out of my comfortable living room – onto the streets and into jail if necessary.”
“Portland is a choke point for fossil fuel transport in the Northwest. We are drawing the line to support all those affected from extraction to the climate-destabilizing combustion,” says organizer Mia Reback, “today’s action is intended to send a strong message that the community will not allow these dangerous oil trains to come through Portland.”
Today’s protest continues a series of direct actions and resistance against Northwest oil-by-rail projects. In June, activists with Portland Rising Tide blocked the Arc Logistics site in Portland when a woman locked herself to a concrete filled barrel on the tracks. Following that action, community members across the Northwest have set up blockades at oil facilities in Anacortes, Washington, Everett, Washington and most recently Port Westward, Oregon.
Arc Logistics currently ships crude by rail from fracked oil shale in Utah. The first US tar sands mine is under construction in Utah and Arc could soon be accepting this controversial fuel. The Arc Logistics terminal can also receive explosive Bakken crude oil from North Dakota without notifying Portland residents.
The Climate Action Coalition demands that the city of Portland halts the operations of Arc Logistics and imposes a ban on all new fossil fuel infrastructure that puts our climate and communities in jeopardy.
The Climate Action Coalition is: Portland Rising Tide, NoKXL, 350 PDX, Portland Raging Grannies, First Unitarian Universalist Community for Earth Team, PDX Bike Swarm