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Oregon governor issues oil train safety review

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Gov. John Kitzhaber has released a statewide review of oil train safety that calls for an increase in state rail inspectors, more funding for training, and improved reporting and transparency.

The review, made public Friday, was ordered by the governor this winter following an increase in the amount of highly flammable crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota that's being transported in Oregon.

The report suggests Oregon should consider a per-barrel fee on crude oil arriving in Oregon by rail to help pay for spill prevention and preparation. The report did not specify what the fee should be.

In June, the California Legislature approved a fee of 6.5 cents per barrel of crude oil transported through the state by rail.

The review also suggests the state should fill critical rail safety positions quickly and not leave them vacant.

"We've seen a dramatic increase in crude oil moving along Oregon's railways over just a few short years," Kitzhaber said in a statement. "I believe we need a targeted statewide response to ensure Oregon has the safest rail system possible."

Kitzhaber also said railroads should provide notification to emergency responders for all crude oil transported by rail, regardless of the type of oil, its region of origin, or the amount being carried. Per federal executive order, railroad companies must notify states only if they're transporting more than 1 million gallons of the Bakken crude.

The report says the governor's recommended budget for 2015-17 will include additional funding for emergency responder training.

The report comes two days after the U.S. Department of Transportation released nationwide draft rules for tougher tank car standards and lower speeds for trains carrying crude oil.

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