Jenny Hass’ life has followed the path of the oil tanker cars that nearly wiped out her community of Mosier. Jenny is a tribal member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians. Her Tribe has fought the despoiling of their ancestral lands and band extraction of bakken oil on reservation lands back in 2011.
Jenny, her husband Joel and her son Klaus moved to Mosier for the community school, warmer weather and kiteboarding. They live in the Mosier Creek condos which sit just above the railroad tracks. Jenny’s father is a toxicologist and discouraged them from buying a condo so close to railroad tracks, particularly as her son has asthma and he was worried about the coal dust that comes from the trains. So they rented.
Jenny and her family were out of town when the derailment occurred. Knowing that rail cars had not been removed and were sitting less than one hundred feet from their home, they decided to stay in a hotel. Union Pacific stated in a community meeting that residents would be reimbursed for hotel expenses, but when she called she felt put on the defensive. “The gentleman asked ‘why do you believe you should be reimbursed?’” said Jenny. She was told she was not in the threat area even though the train sat a stone’s throw away. “I didn’t turn in the reimbursement paperwork as I was made to feel like I was taking advantage of the system,” said Jenny.
Jenny is frustrated the railroads have not adopted more proactive safeguards. “Each derailment should allow time for third-party investigators to identify the cause of the derailments prior to restarting the trains,” said Jenny. “New safety measures should be based on the results of each investigation.” Jenny works as an informaticist in the medical industry. In her field, accidents that cause death or near death are studied and analyzed and great effort is made by hospitals, communities and government to reduce risk and reoccurrence. “I would like to see the railroad companies held to the same standards as our medical, air traffic and automotive industries,” said Jenny.
Soon, Jenny and her family will leave Mosier in a move unrelated to the derailment. But she departs with love and concern for her neighbors. “There are a lot of people really having a hard time,” said Jenny. “I would call it post-traumatic stress. I’m concerned about the community, the emotional side. That has been completely omitted from the process.”