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Adirondack Council Seeks Governor's Intervention in Plan to Use Adirondack Park as Junkyard for Derelict Railroad Oil Tankers

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Adirondack Council Seeks Governor's Intervention in Plan to Use Adirondack Park as Junkyard for Derelict Railroad Oil Tankers

For more information:
John F. Sheehan
518-441-1340 (cell)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, August 19, 2015

TAHAWUS, N.Y. – The Adirondack Council today called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop the Chicago-based Iowa Pacific Holdings from using the tracks between Saratoga Springs and Newcomb as a junkyard and oil pump-out station for derelict oil tanker cars.

The tankers could cause environmental damage to three scenic rivers and the “forever wild” Adirondack Forest Preserve, the Council said.

“We and other Adirondack advocates are deeply concerned about this plan to use New York’s greatest natural wonder as a scrap yard for the oil and rail industries,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “The Adirondack Park is a national treasure because it is wild, beautiful and unspoiled. This should be the last place anyone should consider parking and emptying obsolete oil tankers.”

A railroad official recently told the Warren County Board of Supervisors that the company intends to wait until the tankers are at their destination in Essex County, alongside the state’s tallest mountains and wildest rivers, before inspecting them to see how much oil is left in them and deciding what to do with the oil. (SEE VIDEO, 48:00 to 49:00)

“The plan to store these cars in the Adirondack Park was troubling enough,” Janeway said. “Waiting until they are here to inspect and attempt to clean them out is even worse and should be the subject of a state environmental review. We urge the governor to take action, and to work with federal officials, to eliminate this hazard to the future of the Adirondack Park.”

The Adirondack Park is the world’s largest, intact, temperate deciduous forest ecosystem. It is the source of most of New York’s major rivers. It is a globally significant, protected landscape that attracts 10 million visitors per year.

Janeway noted that no one ever mentioned oil tanker storage and oil salvage facility as a use for the Saratoga and North Creek Railway when the rail company received government permission to reopen it in 2012. The tracks lead to a 19th Century iron mine that was reopened by the federal government during World War II to obtain titanium for war ships. The rail line was abandoned from 1989 through 2011.

“We have no objection to its use as a scenic railroad for tourism development, or the removal of rock from an old iron mine in Tahawus, which were the activities the company said it wanted to pursue in 2012,” Janeway explained.

The tracks run alongside the stunningly beautiful Upper Hudson, Boreas and Opalescent rivers, each of which is protected under the state’s Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System. It also crosses public lands that are protected under the NYS Constitution’s Forever Wild clause.

“New York is spending tens of millions of dollars acquiring and opening new public lands and waterways in this area of the Adirondack Park right now, in an effort to boost tourism and the local economy,” Janeway explained. “We would hate to see this pull the rug from beneath that effort.”

Janeway noted that there is no fence around the tracks where the aging tankers would be stored, making them vulnerable to vandalism, tampering and theft that could result in oil leaking into the rivers and their tributaries, or worse.

Old passenger rail cars that are currently stored on side tracks near the Hudson River and North Creek have been repeatedly vandalized and are becoming an eyesore. This summer, a teenager released the brakes on a locomotive in a secured rail yard which crashed into Union Station in Utica causing millions of dollars in damage.

“Use of the railroad should complement the wild character and ecological integrity of the Adirondack Park,” Janeway said. “It should be managed to protect clean water, public health, wildlife and vibrant communities.

“Used oil cars should be recycled at a location and facility suitable to perform that function with appropriate environmental and public health protections and security, Janeway concluded.

Founded in 1975, the Adirondack Council is a privately funded not-for-profit organization whose mission is to ensure the ecological integrity and wild character of the Adirondack Park. The Council envisions a Park comprised of core wilderness areas, surrounded by farms and working forests, as well as vibrant, local communities.

The Council carries out its mission through research, education, advocacy and legal action. Adirondack Council members live in all 50 United States.

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