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What you need to know for 01/20/2017

Albany County executive angry over handling of oil spill

Albany County executive angry over handling of oil spill

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said he is livid that first responders were not informed of an oil

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said he is livid that first responders were not informed of an oil spill Sunday at the Port of Albany, and questions whether it was as small as described.

McCoy said he only found out about the spill, described as an estimated 100 gallons, via Twitter.

The target of his ire is Global Partners, which operates an oil-processing facility at the port. The state departments of Environmental Conservation and Transportation said they were notified in a timely manner. But McCoy said first responders should be kept in the loop as well.

“You would think Global would be smart enough to be a good partner,” McCoy said Monday. “Nobody could get information.”

When asked if the spill was 100 gallons and primarily contained, he said, “I’m not buying it.” He said if local officials were called immediately to the scene then he could have been assured how much oil leaked.

DEC believes the estimate is accurate. The spill came from a stationary rail car at a transfer facility; a valve is being investigated as a cause.

Still, DEC will investigate whether Global Partners called 911 as mandated by its emergency action plan.

Global Partners did not return a call seeking comment. Port of Albany General Manager Richard Hendrick could not be reached.

County officials have already issued a moratorium on growth in oil operations at the port, pending public health reviews. With increased traffic, there is growing fear in the South End among activists over the potential for a catastrophic accident.

McCoy has said local officials should know what railroads, regulated by the federal government, are carrying through communities so local first responders can be prepared in the case of an emergency. He also said locals should also be immediately called to ascertain if a disaster response such as evacuations is warranted.

The county executive, a former firefighter and EMT, described the company’s attitude to local communities as “We don’t need you and we don’t care.”

“I’m not trying to shut the railroads down. They’re here,” McCoy said. “But we are going to fight to get it done in a safe manner.

“They need to communicate better,” McCoy continued. “They’re handling of it, now that’s been a train wreck.”

Canadian Pacific, the rail operator, said it complied with a “strict notification policy.” A spokesman said only a few gallons spilled on its property. In May the company paid a $5,000 fine for not promptly informing DOT of a derailment that did not result in a spill.

Most of the spill Sunday afternoon went into a containment area as designed, according to DEC spokesman Peter Constantakes.

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