Stop the Bomb Trains

  • By: Riverkeeper
  • Target: Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx
Billions of gallons of crude oil are moving by train through New York State every year.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) can take immediate action to reduce the risks of derailments, which have caused catastrophic spills of crude oil elsewhere in the United States and Canada, including the tragic loss last year of 47 lives and the destruction of a business district in Lac-Megantic, Quebec.

Tell the DOT you support a moratorium on crude oil transportation through New York State.

The volatility of Bakken crude oil combined with the inadequacy of the DOT-111 railcars used to transport much of this cargo has led rail workers to dub them "bomb trains." Spills of heavy crudes, such as those from the Alberta tar sands, would have particularly damaging impacts to water and the ecosystems they support -- because heavy crude oils can sink, clean-up is next to impossible.

Support Riverkeeper's call for a moratorium on crude oil transportation through New York State by calling on Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to ban, with an emergency order, the use of DOT-111 cars for transporting crude oil, and immediately implement the recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for crude oil transport – including comprehensive spill response plans for every railcar.
Dear Secretary Foxx,

On January 28, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an Executive Order, recognizing that crude oil transportation by rail car and river vessel--what one company involved calls a "virtual pipeline"--presents an ongoing major risk to New York communities and the environment. Around the nation, other cities, states, and tribes are spreading that same message and are calling on the federal government to take immediate action.

In New York State, at least four train derailments involving DOT-111 railcars for crude oil have highlighted the acute risk to our communities and environment. Joint federal-state "inspection blitzes" have identified dozens of safety violations involving rail lines and railcars within New York.


The DOT-111 railcars lack any of the basic safety mechanisms (such as shields, pressure vents, or thicker hulls) called for in reports issued by the National Transportation Safety Board, many federal agencies, Congressional leadership, and even the railroad industry itself. Further, these DOT-111 crude oil tankers are just small enough to fit through a federal loophole exempting them from having detailed, comprehensive, federally-approved emergency response plans.

If Hudson River oil terminals are expanded as proposed and reach their permitted throughput capacity, more than 7 billion gallons of crude oil could be moved by train through New York State annually. Under existing permits, already up to 5 billion gallons could be moving through each year.

As much as 20% of the highly volatile crude oil extracted from the Bakken formation is transported through New York.

[Your comments here]

I'm writing to you today to ask you to take immediate, concrete, and substantial action to protect the public, our environment, and our economy from the very real and ongoing threat of crude oil transportation along railways.

1. Immediately ban, with an emergency order, the use of DOT-111s in transporting crude oil of any kind,

2. Immediately implement the recommendations made by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) for crude oil transport – including comprehensive spill response plans for every railcar.

Sincerely,
[Your name here]
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