A county executive blocked further development in oil processing plants at the Port of Albany in New York, citing the impact on public health. The port has seen a large uptick in activity as trains have carried oil from the Bakken to Albany, which is then shipped down the Hudson River. Residents in and around Albany have raised concerns about the safety of so many crude oil trains coming to their once quiet town.
Global Energy Partners had plans to build seven new heating facilities in Albany to accommodate a greater volume of oil. The units are used to heat oil to allow it to flow more easily. The decision by the Albany County executive effectively places a moratorium on those plans until an investigation on safety is completed. “We have many questions, but we’re not getting many answers right now,” County Executive Daniel McCoy said. “Do we have the resources to deal with something like this? How do we respond? We need to know that. And until we don’t, there will be a moratorium.”
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The moratorium may slow the growth in oil processing through Albany, at least in the short-term. The longer-term picture is more uncertain. County Executive McCoy cited the series of oil train derailments around the country over the last year as motivation to slow things down. Also, a train carrying crude oil derailed near Albany on February 28. No cars tipped over and no oil was spilled, but the incident further raised fears among Albany residents. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced on the same day that the state was undertaking an “inspection blitz” of oil trains, rail yards, and the Port of Albany. He has also ordered four state agencies to issue a report by April 30 evaluating the state’s ability to respond to a crude oil spill and subsequent fire by “rail, shop or barge.”
By James Burgess of Oilprice.com