Just a Little Slip

Metroland | March 6, 2014 | Column by Stephen Leon

Oil-tanker derailment in Bethlehem not serious—not this time

As if to underscore area residents’ concerns over the recent flood of crude oil shipments coming by train through the Port of Albany, 13 CSX tank cars carrying crude derailed at the Selkirk rail yards at about 6:30 PM Friday.

There were no rollovers, spills or injuries, but the accident did nothing to stop the jitters of residents who fear that the presence of so much crude oil passing through Albany makes the area vulnerably to a potentially deadly explosion.

“One has to wonder how 13 cars could derail,” said Timothy Truscott, an Albany resident and a member of People of Albany United for Safe Energy (PAUSE). “If you go back the day before that, the state had an inspection blitz down at the port,” he said, where they found 33 track violations in two miles of track, and cars with wheel defects and bad brake shoes.

“So obviously we weren’t safe before, even though the railroads and the oil companies said we were,” Truscott said.

The 13 cars, which were headed to a refinery in Philadelphia, were rerailed by Saturday afternoon.

The oil passing through Albany is from the Bakken formation in North Dakota, and it has a lower flash point than other crude, meaning it is very combustible: “It takes very little to ignite it,” said Truscott.

This was the fourth accident involving CSX oil tankers in New York state since December. Last year, a derailment and explosion of crude oil tankers in Quebec killed 47 people.


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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.