Group seeks state ban on shipment of dangerous oil

Jul 6, 2015

A local anti-fracking group is prodding Governor Andrew Cuomo to impose a statewide ban on the shipment of explosive oils.  Western New York Drilling Defense member Charley Bowman tells WBFO that

trains carrying shipments of highly explosive oils containing propane and butane travel through the city of Buffalo each day.

Demonstrators rally against fracking during an earlier protest on Niagara Square.
Credit WNY Drilling Defense

The substance in question is Bakken oil from the hydrofracked fields of North Dakota. Two years ago today, a tragedy demonstrated how hazardous the oil can be. 

On July 6, 2013, an unattended train derailed in downtown Lac Megantic, Quebec. The 57 tanker cars inside exploded, igniting a fire that lasted 34 hours. It took 1,000 first responders to bring the flames under control, but not before it took 47 lives and destroyed more than 30 buildings.

The WNY Drilling Defense held a vigil for the victims Sunday.

Bowman said the Bakken oil’s highly explosive nature is a result of the propane and butane included in the oil. He added that the oil industry is reluctant to make any changes.

“Their profits are related to the amount of gas content in that oil and if they leave it in the oil they make more money,” Bowman said. “The problem is there’s no financial benefits to New York State residents [by] backing crude oil. There is all the risk. We take all the risk. We risk our lives every time a train passes near us carrying Bakken crude oil.”

There have been five accidents involving Bakken oil in North America within the first six months of 2015. With all the Bakken oil shipments traveling through the city, Bowman added a similar tragedy could easily occur in Buffalo.

The WNY Drilling Defense works to prevent fracking through action, education and policy. It is currently calling on Governor Cuomo to use his Summary Abatement Authority to stop the Bakken oil shipments through the state. The abatement allows public authorities to immediately decrease or stop a nuisance without notice or a judicial hearing.

The group is also pushing the Department of Environmental Conservation to hold public hearings on the explosive shipments.

Bowman said the governor must see that the transport of Bakken oil is not safe.

“This crazy shipment of explosive Bakken crude oil through Upstate New York – we should not be doing this. We should not be risking the lives of New York State residents with these highly explosive trains.”

The WNY Drilling Defense meets the first Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Crane Library on Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo.