ALBANY – New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called on the federal agency responsible for regulating the transportation of hazardous materials to close a loophole that allows highly flammable crude oil to be shipped by rail through communities in New York and across the country.
The AG filed a petition on Wednesday for rulemaking to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration that would require all crude oil transported by rail in the US to achieve a vapor pressure – a key driver of the oil’s explosiveness – of less than nine pounds per square inch.
Ulster County Executive Michael Hein is troubled by those trains rumbling through the Hudson Valley.
“It is extraordinarily dangerous when you think of the remote areas that are along those train lines and the fact that these fires don’t get put out,” Hein said. “When there is a derailment and there is a fire, they don’t get put out, the burn out. There are places that can be in extraordinary danger to both the environment, but also the thousands of people. So, the idea that they are going to make these trains somehow safer some time in the far off future is simply unacceptable.”
Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy said communities like hers “are at risk with highly flammable crude oil being transported through our neighborhoods,” She said the technology exists “to reduce the risk of catastrophe if any accident occurs, and this is a fundamental issue of public safety that is too important to ignore.”
Those trains carrying crude oil traverse 700 miles of the state including Syracuse, Rochester, Plattsburgh, Saratoga Springs, Albany, Kingston, Newburgh and within a few miles of New York City.