Plattsburgh Councilwoman Rachelle Armstrong has been spearheading the development of a task force to look into the issue of trains loaded with Bakken Crude Oil rolling through the City and she’s recently developed a plan that includes not only local officials, but also county emergency management officials and representatives from many different communities affected by their proximity to the rails.. She had originally proposed the task force be created at the City Level but in the last few weeks, the focus has become more of a regional goal..
“The same level of concern guides the establishment of a County Task Force,” Armsrtong said, “The difference is, it’s just bringing more people to the table, including the concerns of people throughout the county not only just Plattsburgh.” Armstrong says there’s been some work at several levels to push oil companies to upgrade their rail cars to make them safer and protect the public from the risks of another derailment.. “The DOT just recently published a whole new set of requirements, including phasing out the DOT 111 cars,” She added, “But I think the speed at which these trains go thru municipalities and the actual standards and testing that has to do with what kinds of substances that are being transported probably still fall short of protecting the public.”
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand says there hasn’t been enough done yet to examine this issue.. “I was in Albany, I saw the oil tankers traveling through a major city, there are hundreds of them,” She said, “As a mother I was alarmed as a mother driving on a highway just a few feet from where these trains are.” Gillibrand also noted that it is a huge concern that harsh chemicals, and volatile fluids are being transported and that they could become a huge concern for safety.”
As for the creation of the Task Force, Councilwoman Armstrong says she would like to see the group created within the next month to six weeks.. Her Job, she says is to reach out to other councilors in the towns and she’s hoping to include as many as possible.. “The caviat for Me,” Armstrong adds, ” is that there needs to be opportunity for public input and public education so that people can participate and we can help to raise awareness about the conditions that we face.”