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Port of Morrow sues for damage from train derailment

Published on November 8, 2018 6:46PM

BOARDMAN — The Port of Morrow is suing Union Pacific Railroad and Pacific Ethanol Columbia for nearly $340,000 for a train derailment last September.

Patrick Gregg, attorney for the port, filed the pleading on Aug. 3 in Morrow County, according to circuit court records, and Union Pacific and Pacific Ethanol received their copies four days later. The two companies have yet to respond to the court filing.

Pacific Ethanol operates a fuel ethanol manufacturing facility at the port in Boardman. Union Pacific operates trains that deliver the corn for the biofuel. According to the pleading, a train carrying corn for Pacific Ethanol arrived at the plant on Sept. 15, 2017. Frontier Rail employees took control of the locomotive when the train crossed from Union Pacific’s mainline onto the port’s tracks, and Pacific Ethanol employees the next day unloaded the corn through a door on the underside of each railcar.

After the unloading, Frontier Rail moved the train and returned its control to Union Pacific, but the train remained on port tracks.

That afternoon, five empty railcars derailed. The port in the lawsuit accused Pacific Ethanol’s employees of failing to close one or more of the bottom doors, which caught and dragged on the tracks. The port repaired the tracks at a cost of $39,944.47 and received no compensation.

Crews also moved 14 other Union Pacific railcars from the crash site. Those cars remain on port property, according to the pleading, in spite of the port’s demands for the railroad company to move them. The port seeks $299,250 or $75 per car per day, for storing the cars.

In all, the port seeks $339,194.47 plus attorney fees and court costs. The circuit has yet to set any dates in the case.

Gregg had no comment. A representative for Pacific Ethanol did not return call by deadline Thursday.

Union Pacific issued the following statement: “Both parties have been in contact with one another and are working to resolve this.”


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