Albany Co. Executive aims for more regulations on oil spills

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Updated: 7/23 7:30 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. – New legislation meant to crackdown on oil spills is being discussed by the Albany County Executive.

The U.S. Department of Transportation released its rule-making proposal on Wednesday, which would improve the safety of crude oil transport. Albany County Executive Dan McCoy made his own announcement about what he plans to do to increase safety of oil tanker transportation in Albany.

The U.S. DOT is recommending reduced operating speeds for crude oil and ethanol rail transport. They also recommend enhanced braking, rail routing risk assessment and notification to state emergency response commissions.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy says he plans to take action of his own proposing up to a year in jail and civil sanctions of $250,000 for operators that don't comply with the law and report spills on time.

McCoy says Canadian Pacific was fined for waiting five hours to report a recent oil spill at the Kenwood Yard near Albany when four cars derailed. However, he also said CP and CSX have cooperated in safety discussions with the county but Global has not.

"I look at CSX safety record and Canadian Pacific but again they're willing to show us these are the safety stuff that we're trying to do,” McCoy said. “Global is not trying to do that and they're trying not to spend any money, and any proposals that they have are five years to implement it. To me that's crazy. This should be implemented right away.”

Residents of the Ezra Prentice Homes live right near the crude oil railway. They feel their concerns have been falling on deaf ears, and they said the trains’ fumes are causing serious health problems.

“Hurt, sad, disappointed,” resident Deneen Carter-El said. “They’re not listening.”

Carter-El said she’s lived at the Ezra Prentice Homes for nearly 17 years and was healthy before she moved there. She said she’s had cancer three times, had her spleen and thyroid removed, and has developed asthma.

“We’re breathing this, and like I said, people are getting cancer, have asthma,” she said. “We’re living in it, and no one is doing anything.”

McCoy called on the Albany Housing Authority to make a change.

“I’d like to see Albany Housing move these people,” he said. “Right up the road at the top of Mount Hope. Howard Johnson’s is for sale.”

Steven Longo is the Executive Director of the Albany Housing Authority. He said moving isn’t an option.

“The Housing Authority is not the owner, and so we have investors that have to be consulted. It would be hundreds of thousands of dollars to relocate the families.”

Longo said there’s no evidence of a major health threat.

“We have not been presented with any data to say that, you know, it is unhealthy down there in terms of air quality. We have hire companies to do air quality control testing.”

But Peter Iwanowicz of the Crude Oil Safety Committee said there’s still data that needs to be collected.

“We’ll be bringing in air monitoring experts to have a better understanding of the vapors we’re breathing in today, and the fumes we smell,” he said.

The legislature would have to approve the new fines and penalties being proposed for Albany County.

Global has not returned requests for comment at this time.

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