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Activists air oil train concerns

Panel discusses impact on residents, rail workers

PAUSE founding member Sandy Steubing, Albany Common Council member Vivian Kornegay and retired CSX maintenance worker and union leader Jon Flanders speak on the expansion of crude oil transportation by rail at the Bethlehem Public Library on Friday, May 9.

PAUSE founding member Sandy Steubing, Albany Common Council member Vivian Kornegay and retired CSX maintenance worker and union leader Jon Flanders speak on the expansion of crude oil transportation by rail at the Bethlehem Public Library on Friday, May 9. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— As more is learned about the increased transportation of crude oil by train, more residents from outside the City of Albany are taking up the cause to make the trips safer, or stop them altogether.

An informational meeting and panel discussion was held Friday, May 9, at the Bethlehem Public Library for area residents to learn more about the proximity of the oil being transported and stored, and how to transition to the use of renewable energy. The event was sponsored by Bethlehem Neighbors for Peace, in conjunction with the newly formed People of Albany United for Safe Energy.

Sandy Steubing, a founding member of PAUSE and author, said the rate at which the transportation of crude oil has increased is alarming.

According to the American Association of Railroads, transportation of crude oil has increased from 9,500 cars in 2008 to 407,642 in 2013. Steubing said the number of spills have jumped from one in 2009 to 137 last year. One of the main reasons for the increase of train transportation of oil is the lack of pipelines to move the oil.

“I don’t know anything that grows at a rate such as this, but crude oil does,” said Steubing.

The discussion panel consisted of Steubing, Albany Common Council member Vivian Kornegay and retired CSX maintenance worker and union leader Jon Flanders. Each spoke about different aspects of the oil’s journey through the region.

About 30 people attended the meeting, with many asking questions throughout the night.

Kornegay said she is upset because she feels Global Partners LP, which operates a rail yard at the Port of Albany that helps transport large amounts of crude oil, is not being a good neighbor.

“They don’t talk to us. They send us to their PR person,” she said. “Well, I don’t have a PR person, just me.”

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