MINERVA – The Adirondacks are now home to more than 50 decommissioned railroad cars, including oil tankers, following a second delivery from track owner Iowa Pacific Holdings.
Minerva Town Supervisor Stephen McNally said Wednesday that there had been talk of Iowa Pacific excluding tankers, “but I think that might have been just bad information.
“There are over 50 cars on the rail line now, and I have no idea how many more are in transit,” he said. “There have been numbers of possibly 2,000, at some point, being stored on the rails.”
The first railcars arrived Oct. 20 over Sanford Lake Railway tracks that cross Hamilton and Essex counties through Minerva and Newcomb.
That route connects with the Saratoga and North Creek Railway, which crosses Saratoga and Warren counties.
They are stored along the Boreas River.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said last week that he opposes the railcar move but admitted the state may not have a legal right to prevent the company from storing as many old cars in the Town of Minerva as it wants.
Environmental groups are calling on the governor and the state to do something more tangible, since the cars are stored close to the Adirondack Park Forest Preserve.
“It appears Iowa Pacific will continue to bring in more used oil-tanker railcars until the state steps in and halts this activity,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, in a news release.
“The company says they are here indefinitely. How many will it take for the state to act? 100? 200? 500?”
Bauer is demanding that the State Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency “assert their authority and stop this ill-advised plan that undermines everything that the Adirondack Park is all about.
“We run the risk of seeing Iowa Pacific create a 25-mile-long junkyard through the central Adirondack Park,” he said. “This reckless and damaging plan must be stopped.”
In an email Wednesday, Bauer said Iowa Pacific has shared no information about the railcars it plans to store.
He said no one locally has been told “when these oil tankers were last used and what they carried, if they were cleaned, where they were cleaned, by whom they were cleaned and how long they will remain in the Adirondacks.”
Protect the Adirondacks is researching all aspects of the rail-car delivery and storage.
“We think long-term storage of these oil-tanker railcars raises a number of legal questions,” he said.
The Sandford Lake line was built under eminent domain during World War II to ship titanium from the Tahawus Mine in Newcomb.
Iowa Pacific now owns that easement, but if the rail line ceases to operate as a rail line, eminent-domain ownership dies, and the property reverts to private owners and to the state to be used as Forest Preserve land.
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