Cleanup underway after Oregon train carrying oil derailed

Smoke billows from a derailed oil train near Mosier, Oregon U.S. in this handout photo released to Reuters June 3, 2016. Courtesy of Climate Solutions/Handout via REUTERS

(Reuters) - Most of the cars from a Union Pacific train carrying crude oil that derailed and burst into flames in Oregon on Friday have been removed and the remaining oil will be hauled away on flatbed trucks, a spokesman for the company said on Sunday.

A total of 16 cars of the 96-car train derailed, up from the company’s previous report of 11 derailed cars, Union Pacific spokesman Justin Jacobs said.

Thirteen train cars remained on site. Investigators were unsure how much oil spilled in the accident, the first major oil-by-rail incident in the United States in a year. Much of the oil was either contained or burned up, Jacobs said.

Firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze by early on Saturday, according to the Federal Rail Administration (FRA).

The accident, which forced the evacuation of a school and the closure of a highway, renewed calls for stronger regulation to guard communities against crude-by-rail accidents.

Focus now shifts to moving evacuated community members back into their homes.

The accident occurred alongside Oregon’s scenic Columbia River gorge and the Environmental Protection Agency, Coast Guard and FRA officials were monitoring the site. There were no reports of oil entering the river, the FRA said.

Authorities are monitoring air quality and taking soil samples to assess the safety and environment impact of oil spilled and the subsequent fire.

Reporting by Catherine Ngai, writing by Bill Berkrot; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli