Environmental Focus: Oil Trains

WXXI | January 12, 2015 | Column by Brad Smith

Now that New York bans fracking, will environmentalists turn their focus to the transportation of fracked oil?

More of the volatile, tar-sand hydrofracked oil is rolling by rail through Rochester and our state.

One group told WXXI as of its latest survey last summer, neither the state or federal government has added safety inspectors, rules or provided safety materials to towns like ours. "It's a recipe for disasters,” said Travis Proulx of Environmental Advocates of New York.

“I think that this issue is really going to start to jell, particularly for western New York and the cities along the rails that are going to be impacted."

Many more trains with this oil roll through Rochester and New York every day, and without the Keystone Pipeline in place, this rail transport will continue.

"People are also going to realize that fracked oil is coming through, that communities like Rochester are absorbing all of the dangers and all of the risk. First responders are not being prepared properly. If there were some type of accident with this oil...this is different oil than has always come through the state and it's a really important point that people are starting to realize."

Proulx is also worried about air pollution from these trains and wishes the DEC would monitor air quality in areas along the rail lines, such as Rochester.

Environmental Advocates is pushing for more state or federal safety rules to protect these communities. "If there were a spill of this type of oil, it would sink to the bottom of a riverbed and would never be able to be cleaned up. If there were a spill of this type of oil, it's much more carbon-intensive, it's much more volatile."

Proulx contends communities are waiting for supplies such as firefighting foam for a spill, and that training for first responders fell short. "Many of the counties thought that they had received training - because they did receive training - but it wasn't training that's at all relevant to this, to this type of oil."

It’s an issue to watch for, according to Environmental Advocates of New York, now that they don't have to worry about fracking itself.


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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.