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Rail News: Safety

New York, Oregon governors take steps to bolster crude-by-rail safety

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced state officials have launched a series of inspections at rail yards to better safeguard residents, communities, waterways and lands from potential incidents involving crude oil transported by rail.

Working with the Federal Railroad Administration, the New York State Department of Transportation last week participated in a series of inspections at the Port of Albany and an adjacent Canadian Pacific yard, a CSX Transportation yard in Buffalo, and along tracks and in rail cars in Buffalo. Inspections were performed on brakes and other safety equipment, including tank cars, as well as rails and ties. In addition, hazardous-materials inspections were conducted to ensure equipment complied with regulations, including valves, valve closures, placards and decals.

"This inspection blitz has resulted in immediate improvements to some of the state’s busiest rail sites," said Cuomo in a press release. "In addition to performing these and other inspections with our federal partners, my administration will continue to urge Washington to enact improved rail and port safety practices that are both mandatory and enforceable.”

The inspections stem from a growing concern regarding the volatility of crude oil from Bakken Shale oil fields and increased crude-by-rail movements throughout New York State, he said. Inspections will continue in the weeks and months to come, Cuomo added.

Meanwhile, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber has ordered an assessment of the state's rail safety and oil-spill responsiveness as a preliminary step in addressing potential crude-by-rail risks.

State agencies must identify gaps in oversight and the regulation of trains carrying oil and other hazardous materials. Kitzhaber aims to work with the Legislature to help tighten existing state laws.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/3/2014