By Kirk Johnson
MOSIER, Ore. — The Chinook salmon that Randy Settler and other Yakama tribal fishermen are pulling from the Columbia River are large and plentiful this summer, part of one of the biggest spawning runs since the 1960s. It is a sign, they say, of the river’s revitalization, through pollution regulations and ambitious fish hatchery programs.
But barely four miles upstream from the fishermen’s nets, state workers are still cleaning up after a major oil train derailment in June. About 47,000 gallons of heavy Bakken crude bound from North Dakota spilled when 16 Union Pacific cars accordioned off the tracks. All of it, Oregon environmental officials said, might have gone into the river but for a stroke of luck that carried the oil instead into a water treatment plant a few hundred feet from the riverbank. MORE>>