‘Safer’ oil train tankers in West Virginia accident used in N.Y.

Capital New York | February 17, 2015 | Column by Scott Waldman

ALBANY—The oil train cars that exploded after derailing in West Virginia on Monday are the same type of “safer” cars that ship much of the crude through New York.

A train derailment near Mount Carbon, W.Va. (AP Photo/WCHS-TV, Bob Aaron)

The type of rail cars were CPC-1232s, which the state's largest oil transport company, Global Partners, voluntarily began using in New York last year after a series of high-profile oil train accidents. By October, Global had fully converted its oil train fleet to the CPC-1232s, instead of the DOT-111 oil tankers used by the majority of the industry. Global has state permission to haul 1.8 billion gallons of crude through New York annually.

A Global spokesman did not immediately return a request for comment.

The CPC-1232 oil tanker cars have thicker shells, reinforced head shields and roll-over protections. The cars are considered more durable and less likely to rupture if they derail.

At least a dozen CPC-1232 cars derailed and one tumbled into a nearby river, where crude leaked from the cars leaked into the river. Video from the scene shows a massive fireball shooting hundreds of feet into the air after the cars exploded. The explosions set at least one house on fire, but did not kill anyone. It was the second accident of the long weekend after a train carrying tar sands crude from Western Canada derailed in a remote area of Northern Ontario on Saturday and seven cars burned.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has increased inspections of oil train cars and tracks, which has turned up dozens of violations in the last year. However, even as Cuomo has called the trains a "problem," he has avoided any other more stringent regulation of the cars, claiming that it is the purview of the federal government.

Environmental groups that oppose oil trains travelling through New York are holding a press conference on Thursday, posing the question of whether Albany was next in line for an accident.

On Tuesday, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney of the Hudson Valley reiterated his call for the federal Department of Transportation and Office of Management and Budget to finalize more stringent safety regulation for oil tankers, which would phase out or retrofit the DOT-111 cars. Those regulations likely would not have had any affect on Monday's accident.

“Thankfully, there are no reported injuries, but these derailments have lasting environmental and economic consequences,” Maloney said in a statement. “If we're serious about safety, we needed these critical commonsense technology improvements yesterday.”


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@PAUSEnergy tweeted this page. 2015-02-18 13:28:44 -0500
PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy posted about ‘Safer’ oil train tankers in West Virginia accident used in N.Y. on PAUSE, People of Albany United for Safe Energy's Facebook page 2015-02-18 13:28:44 -0500
‘Safer’ oil train tankers in West Virginia accident used in N.Y.
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.