New Oil Train Legislation

WNYT | May 4, 2015 | Report by Kumi Tucker

MENANDS - Elaine Kemprowski lives too near the train tracks in Menands for her own comfort.

"I have big concerns," she said.  "If a train ever goes off here, my house is gone.  I'm done."

"I was out here one time and counted 172 going through here.,  I was like, I can't believe this."

She says news of oil train derailments like the ones in West Virginia, or Lac-Megantic that killed 47 people, scares her to death.

On Friday, new rules were announced requiring stronger shells for tank cars, among other things.  

Senator Chuck Schumer (D - New York) says those rules have too many holes.

He stood in Menands next to the train tracks to talk about legislation he says will plug those holes.

He says the phase-out time for dangerous train cars is irresponsible.

"The current law allows up to eight years to phase these out.  Our legislation phases out the DOT 111s in two years and the unjacketed CPC-1232s in three years," said Senator Schumer.

He also wants the federal DOT to come up with the first federal standard on volatility.

"So oil companies would be required to stabilize crude oil," said the senator.  "In other words, if the oil is volatile, they can-- it costs them a little money to stabilize it, make it less volatile before they put in on the cars."

For Elaine Kemprowski, the changes can't come soon enough.

"They should have done it by now.  They should have done it from the very get-go.  They're right here on top of homes.  On top of the kids park right there.  There's kids over there playing softball all the time.  There's all types of events that go on over there," she said.  

"It's terrible.  I don't know what they're going to do about it, but something has to be done."

The new federal rules also have speed restrictions for oil trains, but in New York, they would only really apply to Buffalo, which is a designated High Threat Urban Area (HTUA), not local communities.  Senator Schumer says his bill would change that.

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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.