BREAKING: Oil train derails & catches fire in northwest corner of Washington state

December 22, 2020

Oil train expert Matt Krogh of available for interviews about environmental, public safety risks of oil-by-rail


BELLINGHAM, WA — Whatcom CountyWashington State Patrol, and BNSF have reported a train derailment and fire in the northwest corner of Washington state, in a small town called Custer, which is near the US-Canada border along on the I-5 corridor. Residents within a half mile have been asked to evacuate and I-5 is closed in both directions. No injuries have been reported.

Washington State Patrol District 7 Public Information Officer tweeted that the train is carrying crude oil and BNSF confirmed.

Matt Krogh, the U.S. Oil & Gas Program Director at, an expert on the environmental and public health risks of oil-by-rail in the United States, is available to comment. Krogh is based in Bellingham and has a view of the smoke from the oil train fire from his home.

West Coast-based environmental organization operates its Oil Train Blast Zone map showing how 25 million Americans live within 1/2 to 1 mile of railways that carry crude oil by train, which is the U.S. DOT evacuation zone and potential impact zone for oil train derailments and fires. The map was created in 2014 after the Lac Megantic oil train disaster in 2013, which killed nearly 50 people.

Whatcom County, where the train derailed, is currently considering policies restricting fossil fuel industrial permitting in its Cherry Point industrial zone, that could prevent refinery expansions and limit increases in the amount of crude oil coming to the refineries.


Media contacts: 
Matt Krogh, U.S. Oil & Gas Campaigns Director,, +1 360 820 2938 (Pacific Time)
Virginia Cleaveland, Communications Manager,, +1 510 858 9902 (Pacific Time)