By MARY ESCH
The Associated Press
ALBANY -- As many as 44 trains a week, each loaded with at least a million gallons of volatile crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken region, move through upstate New York, according to documents released Tuesday by the state.
CSX Transportation said it hauls an average of 20 to 35 trains a week across 17 upstate New York counties from the west to Albany and then south along the Hudson River. Canadian Pacific said it hauls an average of five to nine crude oil trains a week through five counties from the Canadian border to Schoharie County, according to the documents released to The Associated Press by the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services in response to a Freedom of Information Law request.
The U.S. Department of Transportation in May ordered railroads to give state officials specifics on oil train routes so emergency responders can better prepare for accidents.
New York officials declined requests from CSX and Canadian Pacific to avoid public disclosure of the information.
CSX oil trains follow a route roughly following the Thruway corridor, entering the state in Chautauqua County, heading north through Erie County, then east to the Port of Albany, which has become a major transfer hub for Bakken crude which then continues to refineries by ship down the Hudson River or by rail.
CP Rail oil trains travel south from Canada from Clinton County in northeastern New York to Albany.
Federal officials ordered railroads to turn over details of the shipments after a string of fiery accidents involving Bakken crude. Derailments of Bakken tank cars have caused explosions in North Dakota, Virginia, Alabama, Oklahoma and Quebec, where 47 were killed when a runaway train crashed in Lac-Megantic last July.
Crude oil shipments have grown significantly since 2008. The Association of American Railroads says major railroads delivered 434,042 carloads of crude in 2013, up from 9,344 in 2008.
On Tuesday, environmental groups asked federal transportation officials to ban shipments of volatile crude in older railroad tank cars which accident investigators say can rupture or puncture during wrecks. The Obama administration has said it will propose a new rule this month governing tank cars that could include retrofits of older cars and tougher standards for new ones.
In New York, oil trains have raised concerns because of the rapid expansion of oil transport facilities at the Port of Albany over the last two years.
Albany officials and residents near the port are trying to stop the state Department of Environmental Conservation from issuing a permit that would allow Waltham, Massachusetts-based Global Partners to add tanker heating units used for handling thick, heavy crude like that being mined in the tar sands of western Canada.