Two New York Times articles by Jad Mouawad describe how the Port of Albany has quietly transformed itself into the East Coast hub for the explosive Bakkan crude shipped by train from North Dakota and Canada. "Albany gets 20 to 25 percent of the Bakken’s rail exports, according to various analyst estimates," Mouawad writes.
See the graphic (best viewed in the article itself) showing the two rail lines, BNSF from Williston, N.D and Canadian Pacific from Estevan, (Saskatchewan province) that converge at the Port of Albany. From there, the crude is shipped via rail and barge down the Hudson River to East Coast refineries and via barge and tanker to Saint John, New Brunswick, where the Irving oil refinery, the largest oil refinery in Canada, is located. Ironically, half of Irving's refined products are then sent to the US Northeast.
Albany’s oil boom has taken local officials and residents by surprise. “This has caught everyone off guard,” said Roger Downs, a conservation director at the Sierra Club in Albany."
Consequently, opposition to expansion of crude-by-rail (CBR) facilities has begun to form, particularly after the company, "Global Partners, which pioneered the use of Albany as a crude-oil hub announced plans to "ship crude extracted from the oil sands of Canada."
According to its website, "Global is a leader in the logistics of transporting Bakken and Canadian crude oil and other energy products via rail, establishing a ‘virtual pipeline’ from the mid-continent region of the U.S. and Canada to refiners and other customers on the East and West coasts."
As we have noted, new voluntary and mandatory rules were recently announced by DOT to prevent the flurry of fiery explosions associated with CBR. However, "(t)hese steps are not enough to protect many communities along the rail lines, Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said this week. This includes many places in upstate New York, like Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, Syracuse and Albany, that have seen higher rail traffic. He compared the industry’s use of outdated tank cars to 'a ticking time bomb' and urged federal regulators to quickly retire these older cars, known as DOT-111s, in favor of models built after 2011 that have better protections," writes Mouawad.
In a follow-up article the next day, "Rail Inspections Ramp Up in Albany and Buffalo", Mouawad writes that "New York State regulators conducted a series of inspections over the last week at the Port of Albany and on rail tracks in Albany and Buffalo to increase the safety of the surging oil-by-rail business, according to a statement by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo."