W. Va. train derailment concerns Albany Co. executives

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A crude oil train that derailed in West Virginia has once again raised concerns in Albany County.

The West Virginia train derailment has the same Bakken crude oil in the same type of rail cars that comes through Albany County. The Port of Albany has become a hub.

“We’re dancing with the devil,” Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said. “And it’s a matter of time, and I’m not trying to scare anybody.”

The Ezra Prentice Homes, a low income housing project, is located right next to the tracks. Residents live in fear every day.

“My kids play out here,” Ashley Taylor said. “And their friends play out as well. So I’m a little more concerned, and it raises my eyebrow to probably, maybe, I should move and not be so close to the trains.”

Even her nine-year-old son fears the trains.

“The loud noise comes out of nowhere every time we’re back there playing a game,” Max Boettner said. “And everybody falls, and then they’re scared.”

In recent years, state and local officials have come together. They’re calling on federal authorities to adopt tougher safety regulations.

“It’s alarming. This is what I’ve been talking about when I say the fight – it’s not over with,” Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said. “It’s part of the State of the County tonight. Because it’s these DOT 111s that are outdated; that the federal government agrees they need to change out, but they’re talking 2018, 2020. You have a new Congress. You have a new senate. So that means things will be pushed back even further.”

McCoy will talk about reducing train speeds and possibly reducing the number of train cars and more training for first responders in his State of the County address.

State officials released a statement on Tuesday calling for federal authorities to act.

It states: “These proposed regulations – requiring rail cars to be retrofitted with reinforced steel plates and advanced brake systems – will better protect our communities.”

CSX train company operates the train that derailed in West Virginia as well as the trains that run through Albany. The company said in a statement: “What we learn from the accident investigation in West Virginia will be applied to making the transportation of crude oil and all freight as safe as possible.”

McCoy said he’s considering adding onto a fence that’s already in place at the Ezra Prentice Homes.

“These housing projects were built around these track areas,” he said. “So what do we do? Put fire walls up; fencing up. Something to give that barrier. We don’t want to give people a false sense of security but give them a little bit of a wall.”

Taylor has a mixed reaction to the proposed structure.

“It would stop the train from coming through to our side, but it wouldn’t stop the chemicals that would be leaking out and wouldn’t stop us from breathing it in,” she said.

McCoy said he’s working with CSX to determine who would pay for it.

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