K&J – Crude Oil “Transportation Without Representation”

050214 - Rail Corridor MapIn the Wake of Wednesday’s train derailment in Lynchburgh Virginia involving several cars carrying crude oil which ignited and were allowed to burn themselves out, Plattsburgh Councilwoman Rachelle Armstrong says something’s got to be done to mitigate the risk to residents as a result of transporting crude oil by train through the city.. “It seems like an absurd conversation to be having,” Armstrong said, “Our nation is in a strangle hold because of our dependence on oil, and the conversation about alternative energy has been stifled at the federal level because the lobbyists at the federal level want the discussion to go nowhere. Because alternatives exist, it seems unconscionable that we would be endangering our citizens.. with the transport of these kinds of products.”

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe is vowing to get to the bottom of the problem or series of problems which led to the derailment in Lynchburgh.. While no one was injured the incident is raising concerns about safety.. not only in Virginia, but across the country… Plattsburgh Mayor Jim Calnon takes the issue one step further saying city’s like Plattsburgh are being held hostage by the rail system..  “It’s a very difficult issue,” Said Calnon, “Because of course we face it, we face the fear and we have absolutely no control. In revolutionary times, it would be Transportation without representation and we’re concerned that there isn’t a way to affect this impact on the city.” 

K&J – 050214 – Plattsburgh City Council investigates Emergency Management and Transportation of Crude Oil Via Train

There are really several issues at play here when it comes to the risk involved in transporting Crude Oil via Rail Cars to and from Albany through Plattsburgh, which is why Mayor Calnon asked Eric Day who is the Director of Emergency Services for the Office of Emergency Services in Clinton County to talk about the assessment of risk and how their office looks at these issues on a daily basis.. His office handles the 911 master street address guide, and Day says, The Clinton County Office of Emergency Management is also tasked with specific Emergency Management which gets into the bigger things including coordinating with the State Office of Emergency Management when it comes to larger scale natural disasters such as the flooding in the spring of 2011.

Eric’s office is continuously on top of all of the bigger issues which could potentially become problematic for the county… Including the transportation of Crude Oil.. In this case Bahken Crude Oil which, as we’ll find out is actually thinner and more volatile than the goopier crude many of us perceive of when we hear the words Crude Oil.. Day says there are anywhere from two to three trainloads of 80 or more cars per day transporting the Bahken oil..

0505214 - Calnon 01The Office of Emergency Response is in the process of developing a railroad response checklist for local fire and police specifically for Crude Oil or Ethanol emergencies… Once it’s complete it will be a one or two page summary of the overall emergency response master plan for not only the City of Plattsburgh, but also for any municipalities which deals with trains running right through their community.. Eric says One of the items in the master plan is already available to everyone in the public in the form of emergency notification.. Councilman Mike Kelly says there’s a need to begin building support in opposition to the transportation of Crude Oil..  Councilwoman Rachelle Armstrong added that she would like to see the City Council come down on this issue and present a unified front to the Governor.. Mayor Calnon adds here that it’s not just municipalities but also individuals that can help in the process, simply by participating and contacting state and federal legislators..

One of the issues which has been raised is the topic of the DOT One Eleven Rail Cars, the vessel essentially which is used to transport crude oil.. Day says there’s been some progress on the concept of changing the regulations to require safer cars.. but that’s going to take some time to implement.  Said Councilwoman Rachelle Armstrong “There’s no question about the danger and there appears to be consensus to move forward with some kind of a plan to address the problem among CIty Councilors.”

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