By MICHAEL VIRTANEN
The Associated Press
ALBANY -- New York's homeland security agency is refusing requests from freight railroads to further restrict public information about their crude oil shipments, concluding it's not sensitive security information and will be given to local emergency planners.
Federal officials reached a similar conclusion in June, ordering railroads to give state officials details about oil-train routes and volumes so emergency responders can be better prepared for their duties.
Railroads sought to keep the information secret, arguing that information on oil train routes and volumes are security sensitive. The issue followed a string of fiery accidents. A derailment and explosion in Quebec last July killed 47 people.
Jerome Hauer, Homeland Security and Emergency Services commissioner, told CSX Transportation and Canadian Pacific Railway that New York won't adopt special non-disclosure agreements.
"The state has concluded that the information provided does not necessitate additional security measures to ensure the protection of public safety," he said.
He said Friday that public disclosures must be made available through the state's Freedom of Information Law. Such requests can take weeks or even months, depending in part on the complexity or volume of information requested.
The Associated Press and eight environmental groups have already filed requests for the information.
In New York, CSX and Canadian Pacific Railway haul crude oil from the Midwest en route to coastal refineries. Much of the crude comes to the Port of Albany, where terminals operated by Waltham, Massachusetts-based Global Partners and Houston-based Buckeye Partners store the oil and transfer it to ships and barges heading down the Hudson River.
According to information from the state, as much as 1,000 miles of New York's 4,100-mile rail network is part of the virtual crude oil pipeline from the northern Great Plains, which passes through 22 counties, along major waterways and through cities including Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, Albany and Plattsburgh.