PAUSE: Albany could be another Lynchburg

WNYT | May 1, 2014 | Column by Abigail Bleck

ALBANY -- Stuck in the middle of the protesters and the DOT 111s are, quite literally, the people who live in the Ezra Prentice apartment complex in Albany's South End.

"I think 'God, please let us get through tonight.  Let's get through tonight,'" worries Charlene Benton.

The DOT 111s that travel just feet away from Benton's home terrified her even before Wednesday's derailment and explosion in Virginia.  The tankers have been involved in most of the crude oil train explosions, including the one that killed 47 people last summer in Quebec.

Grass roots rallies, like on Thursday in the South End run by PAUSE, have forced the issue into the spotlight but Lynchburg makes it even more poignant. 

"The politicians know they have to change this or they are going to roast for it," explains Susan Weber, a member of People of Albany United for Safe Energy.

On Wednesday, Governor Cuomo sent a letter to President Obama calling for stricter rail regulations.  And today's Cuomo's office released results from freight rail car and track inspections conducted to spot-check compliance.

In the Albany rail yard, 324 cars were inspected and defects were found in seven of them.  Just south, in Selkirk, a total of 288 cars were inspected and five deemed defective.

"We saw yesterday...if same thing happened here...there would be terrible terrible property damage and probably, God forbid, loss of life," said Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in a satellite interview Thursday.

Senator Schumer is hoping for new federal requirements mandating DOT 111 upgrades within the month.  But action is needed, say Ezra Prentice residents, now.

"Just as that happened yesterday there, it can happen today here," added Benton.

Senator Schumer believes upgrading the DOT 111s should be sufficient but there are others who believe they need to be taken off the tracks entirely.

http://wnyt.com/article/stories/S3420185.shtml?cat=300

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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.