Train hauling automobiles, meat derails near La Grande



Posted on July 10, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 10 at 1:21 PM

LA GRANDE, Ore. -- A train derailment in eastern Oregon has closed a portion of State Highway 203.

A representative with Union Pacific Railroad says 27 cars derailed around 1:45 a.m. Wednesday just east of La Grande, Oregon and north of Hot Lake Reservoir. The same representative said no one was injured.

An 8-mile stretch of highway 203 was closed between milepost 6 and milepost 14.

The train was mainly hauling new automobiles, along with several empty cars, and at least one refrigerated car with meat inside, according to Union Pacific.

However, the Oregon Department of Transportation says two tankers containing hazardous material are also involved in the derailment. However, officials are reporting the spill isn't a major health concern.

ODOT public information officer Tom Strandberg said residents at the nearby Hot Lake Springs Resort and a nearby RV park had been evacuated after the accident. Those evacuees have been allowed to return.

Lee Manuel owns Hot Lake Springs, and had to evacuate about 20 people from her resort after the train derailed.

"We had to evacuate just after 2 o'clock in the morning -- all of our guests," Manuel said.

What's more, Manuel said she saw chemicals fuming up from the train after the accident.

"It looked like forest fire smoke," Manuel said, adding "If you were standing on my deck, you'd taste it."

No word on what led to the train derailment. Highway 203 is expected to be closed for the remainder of the day.

ODOT has posted a detour, along with signs to direct traffic.

Visit Oregon TripCheck for more details on the situation.