Railroads under closer scrutiny due to increase in oil freight

Mar 3, 2014

With increasing concern about the dangers of long freight trains carrying tanks of crude oil or methanol, Albany is cracking down on track conditions and local emergency services are watching carefully.

When state inspectors visited Frontier Yard in Buffalo and Kenwood Yard in Albany last week, the inspections found problems from bad wheels on some of the rail cars to defective rail in Frontier Yard. The inspectors looked at more than 300 tank cars.

Credit File photo

Rail tank cars have become an increasingly common way to carry oil from North Dakota and Alberta to market and there have been some catastrophic accidents. Erie County Emergency Services Commissioner Daniel Neaverth says the accidents have been noticed.

"It's a high-profile thing because flames tend to get a lot of attention. Explosions get a lot of attention. From a response of emergency services personnel within Erie County or other areas, it's part of the basic training to know what you can handle, what you should avoid and when you should evacuate," Neaverth says.

Neaverth says local fire departments and fire companies train their own people once they have gone through the county's basic training. He says fire companies with rail lines probably pay more attention because derailments are not uncommon.

Last Friday, 13 tank cars carrying crude oil derailed in a different rail yard just south of Albany, although nothing leaked out.