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County stalled on the tracks when it comes to increased rail traffic

Canadian Pacific official Randy Marsh (left) discusses company safety procedures as Ed Greenberg looks on (right). Seated behind Marsh are Tom Scozzfava and Randy Douglas.

Canadian Pacific official Randy Marsh (left) discusses company safety procedures as Ed Greenberg looks on (right). Seated behind Marsh are Tom Scozzfava and Randy Douglas. Photo by Pete DeMola.

— Representatives from Canadian Pacific (CP), the railroad operator responsible for shipping crude oil from North Dakota through the North Country on its way to a processing center at the Port of Albany, told the Essex County board of supervisors, first responders and members of the public at a meeting on Tuesday, March 11, at the Government Center they were working closely with local officials in drafting emergency response plans in the event of an accident.

Federal regulators deemed Bakken crude “extremely volatile,” after a train derailment and explosion near Casselton, N.D., last year, an incident following the Lac-Mégantic derailment last July that pulverized a town in Quebec and killed 47.

Area residents have noted an uptick in the number of trains moving through the region, some carrying upwards of 100 tank cars, and have approached lawmakers with their concerns.

According to statistics provided by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, rail transport of Bakken crude from North Dakota has gone from, “next to nothing four years ago,” to 800,000 barrels per day now nationally.

Both the refinery in Albany and the tank cars are owned by Global Partners (GP), one of the largest gas distributors in the region. CP Rail has a contract with them to ferry the crude southward, said CP spokesman Ed Greenberg, and is bonded by federal statues to ship the cargo.

Greenberg said CP, Canada’s second-largest rail company, places a premium effort on safety and communicating with local authorities.

“Our railroad has an ongoing process of meeting with communities across our North American network to go over a wide variety of areas,” he said. “This encompasses questions about our operations and other important issues.”

Greenberg said the CP staffers who live and work in the community “stay in touch” with local officials and response teams and keep headquarters updated.

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