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Critics say rail car design unsafe
ALBANY -- It's a railroad risk some want to keep away from your home. Critics believe one particular model of car involved in several train accidents across the country is flawed. Lawmakers liken it to the kind of train which left dozens dead in Quebec and they're hoping the federal government puts the brakes on a possible disaster.
It's a costly endeavor Senator Chuck Schumer says we won't have to pay for but rail lines and oil companies will, especially since he says production of domestic fuel is on the way up. There are fewer places to transport it and it could mean bringing gas lines straight through your neighborhood.
Schumer (D-NY) asked, "the increase will be gradual in the number of cars, why not get a start on this safety measure now?"
Nearly 70 cars carrying flamable fuel pass through the Port of Albany every day, and neighborhoods like one in Menands. Steven Harbour wonders why more oil isn't pumped through pipelines.
"People would be less at risk for a catastrophic accident in the middle of the night with no escape from this neighborhood," Harbour said. "We're absolutely trapped. There's no way out."
New York's senior Senator shares his thoughts, looking to a catastrophe in Canada, and a similar tanker bringing business to the Capital Region. Schumer says the DOT-111 is structurally unsafe and wants them off the tracks for good.
"The Port of Albany has already applied to the Department of Environmental Conservation to double the amount of crude oil they can transport per year up to 700 million barrels a year," Schumer said.
He doesn't want the business switched to another line, but is asking for current cars to be retrofitted or phased out.
"It's estimated that in ten years we're going to be importing very little oil," Schumer said. "Most of it's going to be domestically produced. That's a good thing. We're all for that. But it means the number of rail cars used will increase."
Albany is considering safety measures between government and first responders. At some of the first houses along the tracks to the north, some neighbors say accidents are just that -- and can happen anywhere, any time.
The American Association of Railroads said that it is not fair to call DOT-111s dangerous. They said that more than two million carloads of hazardous materials were delivered safely in 2012 and 99.997% of hazardous material carloads arrived at their destinations without incident. The Association does, however, believe that if safer and better DOT-111s can be made, then it makes good sense to ensure that the design and standards the cars are built to must be tougher than current federal standards.
The AAR issued more stringent standards for train cars in 2011. Railroads don't own tank cars - they are owned and leased by shippers.