Gov. Cuomo needs to do more to ensure Bakken oil transport is safe (Your letters)

Syracuse Post-Standard | April 14, 2014 | LTE by Jack Ramsden

A railroad oil tanker car is parked along Interstate 787 in downtown Albany on Friday, Feb. 7. The Port of Albany has become a hub for the U.S. oil business, taking shipments from North Dakota's Bakken Shale daily by mile-long trains and shipping it in tankers down the Hudson River to refineries. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

To the Editor;

While sitting in the Destiny USA parking lot watching the eagles that visit our community each winter, it was impossible not to notice the extremely long trains of black tanker cars rolling by. Now, we are finding out that these trains are carrying Bakken shale crude petroleum and have had a very troubling safety history, including an explosion in Canada that destroyed a small town and killed 47 people. We have not had a similar disaster in CNY (yet), but we are finding out that we are not prepared for it should it occur.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order to increase rail safety, but this doesn't mean that our communities are any safer, especially if CSX isn't providing necessary information to properly train our first responders. These trains shouldn't be going through our communities at all. Not only are they going close by to Syracuse University, but also the Near West Side and our downtown business district. The recommended response in the DOT Emergency Response Guide is to evacuate at least a half mile from any incidence of fire. That would pose a logistical nightmare where delay and confusion would almost certainly mean loss of life and personal injury due to the explosiveness of this substance.

What is terrifying is that the use of DOT-110 tanker cars has increased from approximately 10,000 in 2009 to almost 400,000 in 2013 due to the availability of rail transport over pipeline infrastructure. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Agency has pointed out that Bakken crude has a much lower flashpoint than other forms of crude oil making this increase in rail traffic with outdated tanker cars through populated areas even more of a threat.

Gov. Cuomo needs to do more than issue an executive order on train safety; he needs to move New York away from any energy source that has to do with fossil fuels. New York deserves a sustainable and renewable future without having to fear the continued threats of tragedy from the fossil fuel era.

Jack Ramsden

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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.