Local News

February 23, 2014

Essex County developing disaster-response plans as rail traffic grows

Crude oil trains plentiful

LEWIS — Canadian Pacific Railway is moving as many as 20 freight trains weekly containing Bakken crude oil through Essex County. 

The highly flammable oil comes from Bakken Shale Formation fields in North Dakota, Essex County Emergency Services Director Donald Jaquish said a recent session of the Essex County Local Emergency Planning Committee.

“We used to have one tank car (of oil) a day. Now, we know there are 20 trains a week, 100 cars per train.

“What they’ve created is a pipeline on the rails.”

The tank cars (which first travel through Clinton County) are headed for the Port of Albany, he said, where they’re processed by Global Partners, a fuel shipper based in Waltham, Mass.

The crude is stored at the port in tank farms and transferred to barges that travel on down the Hudson River to refineries.

Global Partners got a permit from the State Department of Environmental Conservation in November 2012 to expand operations from 450 million gallons a year of gasoline, ethanol and oil combined to 1.8 billion gallons of crude oil.


Jaquish noted the Bakken crude is the same type of oil that exploded when a 72-car train derailed on July 6, 2013, in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing dozens of people and destroying the town’s business district.

He said each tank car carries about 30,000 gallons of crude oil.

“They are not resilient to any impact. They will rupture.”


There have been train derailments in Essex, Ticonderoga and Port Henry within the last 10 years, Jaquish said, fortunately none involving any injuries. In Ticonderoga, thousands of gallons of canola oil spilled from a tank car that overturned.

However, a derailment of tank cars carrying Bakken oil in one of the communities along Lake Champlain could be catastrophic, he said.

“There are two public campgrounds in Port Henry, the Village Campground and Bulwagga Bay Town Campground, and they are of particular concern to us, because the railroad tracks pass nearby.

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