Potential Risks Of Oil Trains Traversing City Discussed By Council

From the front page of the July 7th Saratogian

Oil pipeline plan raises safety concerns for Saratoga Springs

By Travis Clark, tclark@digitalfirstmedia.com,, @Travclark2 on Twitter

Posted: 07/06/16, 3:28 PM EDT | Updated: 2 days ago

SARATOGA SPRINGS >> The Saratoga Springs City Council on Tuesday approved a motion to seek input on a State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) scoping process on a proposed Pilgrim Pipeline project.

According to Bill Boehmke, chair of the climate and energy committee for Sustainable Saratoga, Pilgrim Pipeline has applied to construct along the thruway from Albany an oil pipeline that would carry oil to New jersey refineries. Boehmke requested on Tuesday during the bi-weekly City Council meeting that the Council send in a scoping request to learn more about the potential impacts of this project on Saratoga Springs.

Boehmke said that to supply the capacity of 200,000 barrels per day, much more oil would be brought to Albany by rail which would bring an increased amount of oil trains through Saratoga Springs. Various schools, Skidmore College, Saratoga Hospital and businesses are within one mile of the emergency evacuation zone of this oil route.

SEQRA allows interested parties to identify concerns about potential impacts of an environmental act and Sustainable Saratoga suggested that safety concerns are not being addressed in Pilgrim Pipeline’s assessment and application of this project. They will be identifying concerns to state agencies.

Legally, there is little the Council can do to prevent the oil trains from passing through Saratoga Springs but the decision Tuesday would allow them to be an interested party in the SEQRA review. This means that the Council would receive more information on the project and would eventually be able to give their input. Their letter will go to lead agencies, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York State Thruway Authority.

Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen called the pipeline a bad idea and an insult to the Northeast. However, according to him, ways to minimize risks are being evaluated by Senator Charles Schumer, including speed limits for the oil trains.

“I still think that, overall, there are better ways of dealing with our energy problems,” he said.

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