Rail safety touted after blast

Times Union | February 19, 2015 | Column by Eric Anderson

Schumer says new federal standards must be expedited

Sandy Steubing, spokesperson for People of Albany United for Safe Energy, center, calls for the Common Council to support an oil train ban on Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015, at City Hall in Albany, N.Y. (Cindy Schultz / Times Union)

The oil tank cars that exploded in West Virginia wouldn't meet proposed new federal safety standards, even though they were the newer-generation CPC-1232 tank cars, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said Thursday.

Schumer said the oil fire and explosions after the derailment of a CSX oil train on Monday demonstrates the importance of expediting comprehensive new tank car safety standards by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget to replace the weaker DOT-111 cars.

"Yet again, we have seen a rupture-prone rail car carrying volatile crude oil wreak havoc on a community, and it further demonstrates that the federal Department of Transportation and Office of Management and Budget must release tough, comprehensive rail car standards to help avoid a future tragedy," Schumer said. "The CPC-1232 may be a newer rail car model, but it is just barely stronger than the more infamous DOT-111s.

"I am confident that DOT will be implementing much stronger requirements for the strength and structure of rail cars carrying crude oil in their soon-to-be-released rule, and I am urging them to work with OMB to get those rules out the door — now," he said.

Schumer said the CPC-1232 cars are only slightly less likely to rupture than the DOT-111s, and that the unjacketed 1232s can withstand fire only marginally longer.

The 1232s, he said, would likely not meet the weakest of the three proposed federal standards.

Meanwhile, activists in Albany on Thursday evening called for the Albany Common Council to follow the lead of the Albany County Legislature in asking state Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joseph Martens to ban oil train traffic in the state.

People of Albany United for Safe Energy held their news conference in Albany City Hall before the Common Council's meeting.

eanderson@timesunion.com • 518-454-5323

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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.