Local neighborhood concerned about crude oil tanker danger

WTEN | May 1, 2014 | Column by Jennifer Lee

ALBANY N.Y. - Residents of Albany will be voicing their concerns about crude tanker cars following the fiery crash in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Residents from the Ezra Prentice neighborhood living near the Port of Albany are concerned they will fall victim to a similar fate if trains continue carrying increased amounts of crude oil through Albany.

They are demanding an immediate moratorium on tanker cars carrying crude oil make their way from North Dakota to the Port of Albany.

Governor Cuomo sent a letter to the White House on Wednesday just one hour before the derailment of the tanker cars in Virginia. Cuomo is urging immediate federal action to strengthen standards and regulation of crude oil transport, including removing outdated rupture-prone tanker cars from service.

The Governor also sent a report on crude oil transportation that lists recommendations state and federal levels can take into consideration to prevent a disaster from happening.

Just hours after the accident in Virginia, Global Partners, a fuel shipping company in Albany, says it will voluntarily begin updating the rail cars for all crude oil trains starting next month.

But, the General Manager of the Port of Albany, Richard Hendrick, says this wasn't a knee jerk reaction from Global Partners.

“They've been working on that. I've known for months. The CP railroad is the same. They're pushing anybody carrying flammable material to go to the new safer car,” he said.

Residents living in Albany's South End want more testing done and further safety measures put in to place, but the Port of Albany says it is prepared.

"We are well prepared as you can be,” said Hendrick.

Hendrick says workers constantly train with local emergency responders, saying they can’t predict, they just plan to respond. He also said they're always tweaking safety measures, and that he meets with the Albany Fire Department on a weekly basis to keep them in the loop.

Next month, the port will be hosting safety training on tank cars for first responders that work along the CSX line.

"They'll be looking at how to approach cars. We'll bring a train right on the dock. They learn the different valving components of the car and how to look at what each one is carrying. It's the same thing what they look at doing road traffic,” he said.

Peaceful demonstration against crude oil tankers took place at Ezra Prentice residences on Thursday. The protest group wants Governor Cuomo to stop oil trains from traveling through New York State. Sandy Steubing, a spokesperson for PAUSE, spoke out against DOT-111 oil trains.

Charlene Benton, President of the Ezra Prentice Tenants Association, said she recognizes the train issues that have occurred and Governor Cuomo's letter to President Obama. Benton said she is thankful for the governor's concern, but continues to worry about what's being transported in her own back yard.

"Give us a plan. Give us a definitive plan that says this is going to be healthy and safe. And I don't think, I really don't think they can do that for us,” 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.