Albany protesters want oil trains off the tracks

WNYT | February 20, 2015 | Report by Anna Meiler

ALBANY – Protesters want oil trains off the tracks for good and they're begging elected leaders to take care of it before it's too late.

Protesters held signs outside Albany City Hall Thursday night saying, 'Ban the bomb trains,' and asking 'Is Albany next?'

It's a question prompted by the explosive derailment of a train carrying millions of pounds of crude oil in West Virginia this week, sending balls of fire into the air and forcing evacuations.

Nancy Kessler lives 30 feet from the tracks in Menands with her 11-year-old son.

“When we heard about the West Virginia incident, we were in the car and he almost immediately pressed the off button on the radio and started crying. It’s very upsetting for him and his friends to live in this situation,” she said.

Community members say the trains transporting oil in and out of the Port of Albany are ticking time bombs and say it's just a matter of time before a disaster happens here. They claim the Common Council hasn't done enough to protect them.

“What we want them to do is lobby the Department of Conservation and put pressure on the DEC to stop the oil trains,” said Sandy Steubing, the protest organizer.

“Absent of laying down on the tracks I don’t know what else we can do at this point because to say we're not concerned is really disingenuous. We continue to have dialogue with the DEC and our federal representatives. They know how we feel about this. We expect them to act on our behalf,” said Carolyn McLaughlin, president of the Albany Common Council.

One of those federal representatives is U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer. He isn't calling for the trains to come to a screeching halt, but he is calling on the Department of Transportation and the Office of Management and Budget to expedite tightened regulations.

“The oil companies are making a fortune, God Bless them, on all this oil coming out of North Dakota. They can spend a little of it for safe cars, safer routes, slower trains and rerouting away from the most populated areas,” said Sen. Schumer.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan also says this is a major concern for her. She says she has written to the federal government, is working closely with the Department of Conservation and has formed a task force.

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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.