Here is another article about things going on around Rochester.
One year ago, a tiny rail bridge outside Rochester, NY, became a major news story. Residents who passed under the bridge each day saw that the 108-year-old bridge was visibly rusting, with holes worn straight through the metal supports. That disturbed residents of Pittsford, since trains carrying thousands of containers of crude oil passed over the bridge, just yards away from their homes and businesses. The aging bridge, and others just like it, were given a clean bill of health by engineers; however, more crude oil than ever is flowing through upstate New York towns every month.
And this September in Albany, state officials finally met to update their emergency disaster plans should one of those trains derail. Three years ago, the Port of Albany became a hub for shipments of extremely volatile crude oil, shipped in from the booming Bakken Shale oil fields in North Dakota. Each month, about 44 trains carry millions of gallons of crude oil through the upstate, each one carrying potential disaster. In total, 2.2 billion gallons move through the Port of Albany annually.
If one of those trains derailed, it could cause a massive disaster with a tragic environmental and human cost. Just two years ago, a derailment in Quebec caused a massive explosion that took the lives of 47 people. In the wake of that disaster, Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered state agencies to start preparing updated disaster plans for spills and derailments. And nowhere is that need more pressing than in Albany itself.
“The CSX rail line has paid for six to eight firefighters to attend a two-week training program in Colorado on railroad incidents,” said Albany Fire Chief Warren Abriel. “We have done several tabletop and live exercises over the years. The last one with oil trains was last spring.”
The transportation of crude oil along the barges and trains that run through New York State is known as the midstream sector of the oil and gas industry. The refinement and sale of that crude oil comprises the downstream segment, and both are critical to the state economy.
In financial terms, oil and gas companies consider the midstream sector “low risk,” but upstate residents might disagree with that assessment. In Albany, officials are slowly moving forward with the updated plans. In 21 counties along train routes, state officials are helping develop spill-response plans, pre-positioning specialized fire fighting equipment, and appointing more first responders.
The deadline for finalized disaster plans is April 2016.