In the News  Archive

More oil spill fund money urged

March 18, 2015
Times Union

By Eric Anderson

Albany - An environmental coalition wants more money in the state's oil spill fund to cover cleanup costs for oil train disasters.

The organizations Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, Environmental Advocates and Adirondack Council on Wednesday called for a boost in the fund to $100 million from the current cap of $25 million, set when the fund was established in 1977.

They said $25 million in today's dollars would equal $96.4 million.

Oil train traffic has been on the rise in the Capital Region, as the Port of Albany has become a major transshipment point for volatile Bakken crude from North Dakota.

So far, local derailments haven't caused in explosions and fires as they have elsewhere in the United States and Canada.

Fires have burned for days following some derailments and oil has spilled into nearby waterways.

Oil trains in the state travel near such waterways as the Hudson and Mohawk rivers, and Lake Champlain.

Peter Iwanowicz of Environmental Advocates of New York said that a major spill of tar sands oil into the Hudson River could cost in the tens of billions of dollars to remediate.

While the heavy Canadian tar sands currently aren't being shipped through New York, activists believe it's only a matter of time before tar sands travel along the state's rail lines.

From Albany, much of the oil travels south in barges and tankers, while the rest continues its journey by rail.

Railroads likely would be responsible for cleaning up spills along their tracks, unless there was negligence on the part of shippers.
Assembly member Patricia Fahy plans to reintroduce legislation that seeks to boost the resources available for cleanup and recovery in case of a derailment.

Her chief of staff, Cathy Fahey, said specifics are still being worked out.

A measure introduced by Fahy last year would have required oil storage terminals handling Bakken crude or tar sands oil to financially guarantee to cover the costs of a cleanup.

Oil trains travel through parts of Fahy's Albany area district.

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