One of environmentalists’ nightmares came true Friday when a train towing oil cars full of highly volatile Bakken crude from Idaho to Tacoma, Wash., derailed 70 miles east of Portland, Ore., in the state’s scenic Columbia River Gorge. The crash sparked a fire that sent a plume of black smoke into the sky.

Environmentalists call trains carrying oil at high speed “bomb trains.”

The derailment saw eight cars “accordioned” across the tracks, in the words of local resident Silas Bleakley. The train was operated by the railroad franchise Union Pacific. Authorities reported no fatalities or injuries.

AP reported:

It wasn’t immediately clear how much oil was spilling from the oil cars, or how much damage there might be to the area. Maia Bellon, director of Washington state’s Department of Ecology, says no oil has been spotted in the Columbia River.

Environmentalists reacted quickly to the accident and called it a reminder of why oil should not be transported by rail.

“Moving oil by rail constantly puts our communities and environment at risk,” said Jared Margolis, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity in Eugene, Oregon.

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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