Crude Oil Transport

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Bakken Crude oil train derailment in Lac Magantic Quebec, 2013. Photo by Sûreté du Québec via Wikimedia Commons

47 people died and several square blocks were leveled in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, in July 2013 after the derailment of a train laden with Bakken crude oil. That train was destined for a New Brunswick refinery that is also the destination for some of the oil traveling through the Hudson Valley. (Photo by Sûreté du Québec via Wikimedia Commons.)

The Issue at a Glance

With very little public awareness and no study of environmental impacts, the oil industry has made the Hudson Valley into one arm of a dangerous “virtual pipeline” for crude oil that snakes thousands of miles by rail, barge and ship from oil fields in North Dakota, Canada and elsewhere, to refineries on both coasts.

The New York State segment of this “virtual pipeline” primarily moves a particularly volatile crude oil by rail from the Bakken shale formation of North Dakota and nearby states and provinces, where oil production has doubled in three years, to the Port of Albany. There, billions of gallons of crude oil can be offloaded onto barges and ships destined for East Coast refineries. Additional trains loaded with crude oil destined for refineries to the south continue along the west side of the Hudson River, through communities in Greene, Ulster, Orange and Rockland counties. Some of these trains carry Canadian tar sands crude bitumen, and there are proposals that would facilitate the shipment of heavy crudes like this by barge as well.

Photo: Oceans8 Films/Jon Bowermaster

Photo: Oceans8 Films/Jon Bowermaster

Now, there is a proposal to build two massive pipelines called the “Pilgrim Pipeline” from Albany, NY to the Linden, NJ area. One pipeline is proposed to carry crude oil south, and the other proposed to bring refined petroleum products north. Learn more about the risks of this proposal below.

The potential human and environmental impacts of this “virtual pipeline” are anything but virtual. The Hudson River, its tributaries and every community along the river or the freight rail line are at risk from spills and fires.

Recent Blogs on Crude Oil Transport

Sign up for our e-letters to stay informed about this issue. (Click “Hudson River Oil Transport” as an interest.)

  • Risks of River Transport

  • Risks of Rail Transport

  • Risks of the Pilgrim Pipelines

  • Hudson River Anchorage Proposal

  • Types of Crude Oil

  • What Riverkeeper is Doing

  • Presentation Slides and Videos

  • Resources for Action

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