Boardman Chamber Luncheon Focuses on Rail Safety, Infrastructure

Event profiles Union Pacific rail investments in the Northwest

 BOARDMAN — Business and community leaders gathered at the Port of Morrow Wednesday to hear how Union Pacific’s investments in rail safety and track improvements will  help reinforce the Northwest’s infrastructure network for trade and exports.

Aaron Hunt, director of public affairs for the railroad, told members of the Boardman Chamber of Commerce Wednesday the company’s safety focus, particularly on track inspections, will further enhance the rail network. Union Pacific has invested more than $1 billion in Oregon in the last 10 years.

“Union Pacific’s primary focus is the safe transport of all products, including energy commodities,” said Hunt. “We continue investing in our Oregon and Washington rail lines to benefit our communities, our employees and customers.”

New energy transfer projects, like the proposed Vancouver Energy oil transfer terminal in Vancouver, Washington, stand to benefit the economies of Washington, Oregon and the entire Pacific Northwest region.

“The federal government’s common carrier obligation requires Union Pacific to move crude oil and we are committed to doing so in a safe and responsible manner,” he said. “Rail remains the safest, most efficient means of transporting commodities like crude oil.”

Jared Larrabee, general manager of Vancouver Energy, also provided a brief overview of the project at the luncheon, highlighting its strong economic benefits and commitment to safety.

Transportation fuels used in Oregon primarily come from West Coast refineries, Larrabee said. The proposed terminal at the Port of Vancouver USA is a transfer facility that would receive crude oil by rail and load it onto ships bound for refineries in Washington and along the West Coast. It is a joint effort between Tesoro Refining and Marketing Company LLC and Savage Companies.

In October, Vancouver Energy revised its project application, offering to begin operations at 50 percent of the optimal throughput. Under the plan, additional increases would occur, through demonstration of public safety or environmental performance.

“Vancouver Energy has made an ‘all-in’ commitment to safety and is asking to be judged on our performance,” said Larrabee. “We are confident we will operate the terminal safely and responsibly before moving to a higher throughput level to serve the energy needs of the state and region. Having supply chain partners like the railroads and the marine industry, who share our commitment to maximum safety efforts, is a vital part of this project.”