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Opinion >  Letters

How to measure life lost?

How do we measure the value of a life lost because of a train derailment, a city gone up in smoke because of an oil train explosion following a derailment or a city’s water system polluted by gallons of spilled Bakken Crude Oil?

Fortunately, no one was killed by the oil train derailment in Mosier, Oregon, on June 2016, but people have been killed in other Bakken oil train derailments. The town of Mosier was lucky that there wasn’t a typical high wind blowing through the Columbia River Gorge that day.

According to the Dec. 8 Spokesman-Review article, the Trump administration has rolled back 2015 regulations on oil train safety, reversing a regulation that requires trains carrying highly explosive liquids to switch from their current air-controlled brakes to the faster-acting electronically controlled pneumatic brakes. The reason given for this reversal was that the cost of the new brakes would be three times the benefit they would produce.

But again I ask, how is this benefit measured? What cost do we assign to a life lost or a community destroyed by fire or a water supply polluted by oil?

Pauline Druffel


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