Lac-Mégantic: «réveil brutal» dans l'État de New York

Canadian Press | July 3, 2014 | Column by Sébastian Malo

(ALBANY) While a debate rages in Washington over the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada, closer to the border, residents of Albany have their eyes on the railway accident in Lac-Mégantic. In the capital of the State of New York, the stuffed flammable crude oil wagons rolling stone's throw from a disadvantaged neighborhood fanning fears of a remake American.

For the Albany community in upstate New York, the tragedy of Lac-Mégantic is a warning.

"It could happen here," says a flyer announcing the rally on Sunday to commemorate the explosion of tank cars of crude oil have been 47 deaths in Quebec there one year.

Mother, Kahdejah Johnson, 23, suffers from insomnia since she became aware of the devastation that these cars, so familiar, could cause if they were to catch fire.

His home is one of 179 dwellings in low-rental Ezra Prentice complex piled along a congested track, day and night, cars figures marked "1267-3." This is the system code chemical numbering designating the goods on board: crude oil.

"I'm afraid to stay at home, she said, agitated. Some nights, my son and I are not sleeping here. I pass by the house, I get dressed and I decamped to my mother. "

Spurred by the oil boom of the Canadian and American West, Albany, city of nearly 100,000 inhabitants, is rapidly transforming peaceful administrative capital in the oil center foreground.

Oil crowded trains are winding between the houses and the Hudson River. Their immediate destination: the commercial port of Albany. Here, the content is shipped by barge on the river, to refineries from New Brunswick, New Jersey.

"What is strange is that we did not know how much crude oil we receive until the explosion in Canada," says the former municipal councilor Dominick Calsolaro, one of the first elected have sounded alarm.

Discreetly, in 2012, the State of New York has agreed to a request for a permit to increase the quotas of crude oil unloaded at Port of Albany. Today, 2.8 billion gallons may transit through, against 1.2 billion previously.

Sunday, residents, environmentalists and politicians gathered on the basketball court of Ezra Prentice complex to remember the disaster of Lac-Mégantic.

Cars approaching five meters at most of the residential area in this location, making it a symbol of the struggle against the current situation.

"We will print photos of the 47 victims of Lac-Mégantic, read their names, then pin on the fence," said Sandy Steubing, spokesperson of the NGO PAUSE (People of Albany United for Safe Energy). "There will then be a pastor deliver a sermon."

Canada, new gas pump

If oil shipped by rail to Albany currently comes from North Dakota, a company in Massachusetts, Global Partners, is preparing to build natural gas boilers which, in the opinion of experts, used to liquefy the bitumen oil Alberta.

Canadian oil sands are less flammable than crude "light" currently routed. But the project equally displeasing to the community because they are much harder to clean spill.

Ironically, one of the catalysts for the growth of oil transport by rail is the reluctance of President Barack Obama to authorize the Keystone XL pipeline, a project criticized by environmentalists that would run from Alberta to Eastern U.S..

"If there was such a surge in oil transportation by train, it is because the oil infrastructure is missing," says Charles AS Hall, oil issues specialist and professor emeritus at the State University New York.

Meanwhile, several lawmakers are preparing for the worst.

Patricia Fahy, Member of Parliament of the State of New York, proposed a bill requiring oil storage facilities are sufficiently insured, if decontamination is necessary. She explained want to avoid the Canadian scenario, where the government has bailed salted invoice after the railway company responsible for the accident had declared bankruptcy.

"It was a rude awakening when we drew the necessary conclusions after the accident in Quebec, she said. Nothing beats what happened there. "

Only in the last two months, a tanker of crude oil derailed near the Port of Albany, while another 378 liters leaked its contents.

About Kahdejah Johnson, it has to travel from her mother to attend the rally. "They lost their lives for the same reasons that could cost us ours," she said.

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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.