Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy announced that his office has formally submitted comments to US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in response to the agency’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) entitled: Hazardous Materials: Enhanced Tank Car Standards and Operational Controls for in High-Hazard Flammable Trains.
“The monumental increase in crude oil shipping through our community demands a strong response,” said McCoy. “We cannot wait any longer. It is my duty to protect the health and safety of county residents and we need the federal government to strengthen the rules. This report provides our response to the proposed rules and they will help address the safety concerns we have.”
“I thank the County Executive for the opportunity to join in these important comments to the proposed federal regulations which seek to ensure the proper standards for rail transport of high-hazard materials, said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “It is imperative that the concerns of Albany residents be heard and considered throughout the process. The safety and well-being of our community and of communities around the country are at stake.”
Peter Iwanowicz, the voluntary chair of the County Committee on Crude Oil Safety said: “As big oil moves to make Albany a bigger piece of the oil patch, it is important that proper standards are put in place to protect the health and lives of those living along the rail lines and near oil storage facilities and the fragile environments rail lines traverse. The comments and recommendations Albany’s leaders filed with the federal Department of Transportation represent the strong advice of those on the front lines of the oil by rail boom and should be adopted in the final regulatory package.”
McCoy noted that while the US DOT has taken positive steps to reduce the risk posed by increased oil-by-rail shipping in the region, swift action is needed in the short term to mitigate the risk to the public.
The comments on the NPRM recommend that the USDOT undertake the following measures immediately:
· The agency should exercise emergency authority to reduce public hazards now:
· To reduce risk, the department should mandate stabilization or conditioning of crude oil prior to shipment;
· The proposed new shipping standards should apply to trains transporting smaller volumes of oil;
· The implementation of positive train control should be accelerated;
· The DOT must mandate reduced speeds for trains carrying Class 3 flammable liquids in or near densely populated areas;
· Carriers of Class 3 flammable liquids should be required to provide more disclosures to local first responders;
· Carriers of crude oil should have adequate financial assurance; and
· The department should adopt the most protective tank car standards and follow the recommendations of the NTSB.
NYS also submitted comments from the DEC, the DOT, and the DHS in two letters:
“Governor Cuomo remains committed to the partnership fostered between New York State and relevant federal agencies on these issues. Further, enhancing practices and strengthening regulations to ensure public health and safety and the protection of natural resources are critical. New York State urges USDOT to expedite the promulgation of these regulations to ensure the safety of those living and working along crude oil transportation corridors.”