Dominick Calsolaro

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Albany council takes up oil-transportation safety issues

Published on 11/18/2013 by the Times Union written by Scott Waldman

ALBANY—The Albany city council will take up a resolution that expresses concern about the amount of North Dakota oil flowing through the city every day by train.

The resolution, which will be voted on Monday night, would declare that the city will investigate and discuss safety issues regarding the transportation of hazardous materials by rail, and will also assess the city's capability of responding to worst-case scenarios of spills or explosions involving crude oil, ethanol or chlorine. The resolution also calls for legal measures that would require the Port of Albany and owners of the tanker cars to pay for fire and emergency protection costs.

Councilman Dominick Calsolaro said Albany is bearing costs of preparing for an influx of rail cars bearing hazardous materials that the city, and its fire department, can't afford.

“We don't have enough materials to fight the fire,” he said.

Two trains with 80 cars of oil arrive in Albany every day, according to the resolution. The cars pass close by homes and are stored there for days at a time as they wait to be loaded on to a ship.

Public scrutiny of oil shipments has increased sharply after a July explosion of a train carrying crude killed 47 people Lac-Megantic Quebec. Up to three million gallons of crude pass through Albany every day, on the way to East Coast refineries in Delaware and New Brunswick.