Panel to view rail safety

Times Union | July 24, 2014 | Column by Kenneth C. Crowe II

Recommendations for solutions to be made by Sept. 2

Albany

A blue ribbon panel will make recommendations on rail safety to protect residents from oil trains traveling through the city, officials announced Thursday night.

The panel will be appointed to begin work next week, Mayor Kathy SheehanCommon Council President Carolyn McLaughlin and Councilmembers Vivian Kornegay of the 2nd Ward and Dorcey Applyrs of the 3rd Ward said in a joint statement issued by the mayor's office.

"Yesterday, independent action was taken to raise the level of concern about the safety and welfare of people near rail lines and cars that carry oil and other hazardous materials," the officials said, referring to County Executive Dan McCoy's call Wednesday to relocate hundreds of residents from the Ezra Prentice Homes near the Port of Albany. "While we couldn't agree more that the safety and welfare of Albany residents is the top priority, as elected officials we believe it is our responsibility to offer workable recommendations and solutions."

The panel will have representatives of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Albany Housing Authority and community representatives. It will provide "short- and long-term recommendations for rail safety to the city by September 2," the statement said.

On Wednesday the U.S. Department of Transportation announced proposed new rules to make the shipment of crude oil by rail safer. Changes include slower oil train speeds in urban areas, the phase-out or retrofit within two years of the oldest, least-safe tank cars and a risk assessment of the routes that trains hauling Bakken crude travel.

The oil trains pass through Albany, Menands, Watervliet, Cohoes and other Capital Region communities on their way to the Port of Albany.

"The issue of rail safety impacts all people who live along rail lines, as well as those who work, shop and drive in close proximity to the tracks," the four officials said.

"With support from community members and advocates, we've already commissioned air quality testing and held numerous meetings to provide information to our residents and to listen to concerns."

kcrowe@timesunion.com • 518-454-5084 • @KennethCrowe

http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Panel-to-view-rail-safety-5645774.php

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Panel to view rail safety
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy
PAUSE works to promote safe, sustainable energy and environmental justice.  We aim to engage the greater public to stop the fossil fuel industry's assault on the people of Albany and our environment.