Monday, April 21, 2014

Video- Leaking gas pipe detected with FLIR Gasfindir GF320

The video was shot on April 20, 2014. The worker asked to use the FLIR video camera after his equipment stopped detecting the leak. He finally shut the equipment down for repair.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Washingston State Train Watch April 16-27, 2014 (Final report from Vancouver, WA)

April 16, 2014
Day 1
Today was the first day of Washington State Train Watch 2014.   This citizen’s fossil fuel train monitoring effort is being coordinated between residents in Spokane, the Columbia River Gorge, Camas, Vancouver, Fruit Valley, and Everett.  Vancouver Action Network is engaged in the world’s first scientific monitoring of dangerous air emission “burps” from Bakken shale gas crude oil trains which currently pass through our town unmonitored by the US government.  Federal law 49 CFR 173.24(b)(1) states that rail safety inspectors can’t use scientific monitoring equipment to monitor for hazardous materials releases.   

Members of Vancouver Action Network
Snohomish County Sierra Club's  and
Spokane Rising Tide as well as private citizens are all watching and monitoring oil and coal trains over the next 12 days.   

Today we were able to coordinate our monitoring efforts with a volunteer in Camas, WA and spotted coal trains leaving Camas at 12:06pm and 12:49pm and arriving in Vancouver at 1:42pm and 5:36pm.  We spent the afternoon charging batteries, reading manuals, and calibrating equipment. 
VAN volunteers picked up the summa canister air sampler and FLIR Gasfindir GF320 hydrocarbon viewing video camera around mid afternoon today.  VAN volunteers gathered additional supplies including camera tripods, traditional digital video cameras, and a bullhorn for communication with the train engineers.  We have our regulatory call lists and additional site visit lists prepared.    Stay tuned for more details and videos to follow. 

Thanks to all of the generous support from the greater Pacific North West environmental community and the Natural Resource Defense Council ( NRDC ) for providing funding for this project.  Without you all it would not have been possible.  100% of your donations have gone towards renting this cutting edge video and air monitoring technology and community organizing efforts such as printing educational fliers.   

If you are interested in joining Washington State Train Watch or starting a Train Watch in your community please contact us.    

Remember if you see a long black oil train stopped or in Westbound motion anywhere between Spokane and Vancouver between April 16-23, 2014 call 503 765 7176 any time day or night.    

What does an oil train look like? Look here--

Take care, Matt Landon with Vancouver Action Network   503.765.7176

April 17, 2014 Day 2 On Thursday we coordinated with volunteers in Washougal, WA and Bingen, OR.  Thursday morning 11am Matt headed out with the FLIR camera.  It was rainy and Matt couldn’t find any oil trains.  12:57 oil train leaving Washougal, WA  1:30pm Oil train arrives at Land Bridge, Vancouver  (monitored, but rainy conditions) 2:18pm coal train enters Vancouver 6:58pm oil train leaves Bingen, OR 7:21pm oil train at Land Bridge, Vancouver (monitored, cool temp conditions) (also not the same train as previous 6:58pm Bingen) 

April 18, 2014 Day 3 On Friday we coordinated with volunteers in Washougal, WA where we had train spotters from 7am-8pm.  7:10am oil train leaves Washougal.  7:45am oil train arrives at Land Bridge, Vancouver.  (Partially monitored)8 am oil train crosses river into Oregon  8:30am Matt observes two 1267 and three 1993 placarded railcars hooked to steam for heating / unloading (monitored) 12:53pm steam still hooked to railcars- occasional fumes noticeable 1:05pm worker opens manhole lids and uses handheld infrared temperature laser gauge, the worker stated that the temp was 160. (monitored a large release of unburned hydrocarbons) Made YouTube video of this release.  *** Company found to be operating with an expired air pollution permit. When Matt asked the Oregon DEQ regulatory agency to supply information about the chemicals contained in the oil rail cars Tina Leppaluoto said, " DEQ only requires the data submitted based on their permit.  The permit does not require DEQ to obtain this information, so we are not in a position to require the documentation based on a records request." **** 10pm scouted a refinery / export terminal

April 19, 2014 Day 4 On Saturday we coordinated with volunteers in Camas, WA.  6am oil train at Land Bridge, Vancouver (monitored)  8:21am coal train leaving Camas, WA  8:34am coal train arrives at Land Bridge Vancouver  9:49am coal train leaves Camas, WA 10:03am coal train arrives at Land Bridge, Vancouver 2:20pm oil train arrives at Land Bridge, Vancouver 2:55pm full oil train departs west out of Vancouver 3:00pm empty oil train heads east out of Vancouver  4:01pm oil train at land bridge Vancouver, WA

April 20, 2014 7:02am oil train leaving Washougal, WA 9:00am oil train leaving Washougal 10:36am coal train leaving Camas, WA 11am coal train arrives at Land Bridge, Vancouver 1:02pm coal train leaves Camas, WA 4:05pm coal train travels through Vancouver (We went into the field today to monitor various other sites and discovered a leaking natural gas pipe.  We called in the violation and the company shut down the equipment for repair.  We made a YouTube video of this fieldwork.)

April 21, 2014 4:51pm coal train at Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA

April 22, 2014 6:37am coal train at Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA 9:49am coal train at Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA

April 23, 2014 11:18am oil train at Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA

April 24, 2014 7:58 am coal train leaves Camas, WA 11:46 am oil train at Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA 4:36pm coal train leaving Camas, WA

April 25, 2014 1:23 pm coal train leaving Camas, WA 4:00pm coal train at Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA  4:30pm coal train at Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA 5: 59 pm coal train leaves Camas, WA

April 26, 2014 1:00pm oil train at Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA  3:00pm oil train at Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA

April 27, 2014 10am coal train at Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA

Friday, April 11, 2014

Washington State Train Watch & Monitoring April 16 - April 27!

If you are from Vancouver, Columbia Gorge, Spokane, or Everett, we need your help.  Call us at 503-765-7176 immediately if you see an oil train at any time during April 16 - 23 for VAN's oil train air pollution monitoring.  Please forward this to your friends in these key areas, especially those living in Spokane.  All the trains we will be monitoring will be coming through Spokane.  For information on identifying the Bakken crude tanker cars, please see the Snohomish County Sierra Club's website at, Sightline Daily at and, as well as The Oregonian at  I've added a Google Doc quarter sheet flyer with our contact information.

We are also actively recruiting volunteers to assist us with our oil train air pollution monitoring program in Vancouver, WA.  For more information about our project, please see our blog post here.  If you are interested in fieldwork, please contact us at or 503-765-7176.

Our project also happens to coincide with the Snohomish County Sierra Club's Train Watch 2014.  While VAN is mainly interested in oil trains, the Sierra Club will be watching for oil and coal trains from April 21 - 27.  Please visit their website at for more information on how you can help them.

Monday, April 7, 2014

VAN desperately needs summa canisters for air monitoring! Can you help?

VAN has made a lot of headway in the last month and half but we still need your help.  The FLIR camera that we are preparing to use is a qualitative tool.  It can show VOC’s and hydrocarbon fumes being emitted from the trains, but it can’t give us any information about the amounts.  We hope to add a few summa air monitoring canisters in order to determine the levels of VOC’s.  Our plan is to use the camera to find the most significant emissions being released then, using the summa canister, obtain an air sample from that area.

Summa Canister air monitoring costs $250 - $350 per sample.

 Summa canisters are small airtight metal containers. The summa canister is sent to the field under vacuum and certified leak-free. The canister fills with air at a fixed flow rate over a preset period of time with use of a flow controller.  After the canister is filled, it is sent to an analytical laboratory under the appropriate chain-of-custody protocol and analyzed. Very low detection limits, in the sub­parts per billion volume (ppbv) range are possible.

We’ll also need volunteers to help with the monitoring. If you’re interested, please get in touch with us at or 503-765-7176.