Environmental group steps up efforts to ban outdated crude oil-carrying trains

Daily Freeman | February 21, 2015 | Column by Paul Kirby

KINGSTON >> A Valhalla-based environmental group stepped up its pressure on government officials to take measures now to ban outdated crude oil-carrying trains from the nation’s tracks.

The Valhalla-based environmental group Riverkeeper is ramping up its efforts to ban outdated crude oil tanker cars. Tony Adamis — Daily Freeman

Riverkeeper made its demands in wake of two recent explosions of derailed trains carrying crude oil. 

In a press release, Riverkeeper representatives say enough is enough.

“What will it take for our leaders to act?” John Lipscomb, captain of Riverkeeper’s Hudson River Boat Patrol Program, said in the press release. “How many more derailments? How many more explosions? This is an unacceptable risk.” 

Riverkeeper’s statements come after derailments of trains carrying crude oil occurred in West Virginia and Northern Ontario, Canada. 

Riverkeeper urges that the U.S. Secretary of Transportation immediately issue an emergency order to, among other things, prohibit “the use of the 23,000 tank cars identified. . .as being the most vulnerable and least resilient tank cars on the rails. 

“These “worst” tank cars – which include both CPC-1232s and DOT-111s – should not be permitted for use in hauling any other hazardous liquids (such as tar sands crude oil). 

Some state officials responded to Riverkeeper’s plea. 

“It is important to understand that to a very significant degree, the regulation of commercial rail traffic has been usurped by the federal government,” Assembly member Kevin Cahill said, D-Kingston, in an email. “Still, the call by Riverkeeper and other responsible groups is well-placed. 

“For example, that is why the Assembly Insurance Committee is exploring ways to make sure entities that are engaged in dangerous activities such as the transportation of fuel oil are adequately insured and using the safest equipment to move the goods.” 

“The feds have to step up to the plate and make sure these rolling pipelines do not endanger our communities,” said Cahill, who is chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee. 

Senator John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, said state officials have called for safety improvements. 

“New York state Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald and state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens have called on the federal government to expedite new regulations to improve safety shipments of crude oil by rail,” Bonacic said in an email. “I too urge the federal government to expedite these regulations, and I will continue to work with state government officials on this issue” 

Sean Dixon, Riverkeeper’s staff attorney, said the explosions indicate that there is significant, imminent danger posed by the crude oil shipments. 

“No community should be subject to the real, imminent dangers that crude oil trains present,” Dixon said. “But the oil burning on the Kanawha River in West Virginia could as easily be on the Hudson River.” 

Dixon painted a picture.

“Imagine the fireballs going up in our communities,” he said. “Imagine our river on fire. Imagine our drinking water intakes closed.” 

“The very same crude oil rolls through our communities and along our rivers, from Buffalo to Albany, along the Mohawk, down the Champlain Valley, through Hudson Valley communities like Albany, Catskill, Kingston, Newburgh, and West Nyack,” Dixon said. “The federal and state governments must act now to protect our communities, our river, our environment.” 

Riverkeeper said new federal safety rules for the surging industry of crude oil rail shipment are due out in May, months after they were originally slated to be published. 

“But the plan is riddled with loopholes, and the most obvious step – taking the worst-designed, most dangerous rail cars out of service – wouldn’t happen for years,” the Riverkeeper press release noted. 

“Enough studies, enough waiting,” the group said. 

The group has a message to political leaders. 

“Riverkeeper and communities around the nation once again call upon the state of New York and the Secretary of Transportation to take immediate action to address the all-too-evident dangers threatening our communities, economies and environment every day,” the group said. 

The group said the state should suspend permits granted to the Port of Albany “oil transloading facilities, which facilitate this ongoing endangerment. “The state Department of Environmental Conservation must then require an environmental impact statement prior to any possible reactivation of those permits,” the group says.

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-news/20150221/environmental-group-steps-up-efforts-to-ban-outdated-crude-oil-carrying-trains

Do you like this post?

Showing 2 reactions


@PAUSEnergy tweeted this page. 2015-02-23 14:29:00 -0500
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy posted about Environmental group steps up efforts to ban outdated crude oil-carrying trains on PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy's Facebook page 2015-02-23 14:29:00 -0500
Environmental group steps up efforts to ban outdated crude oil-carrying trains
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE is a grassroots group of individuals who have come together to promote safe, sustainable energy and fight for environmental justice. We engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry’s assault on the people of Albany and our environment.