News > News > Preserve River Ecology > Crude Oil Transport > Riverkeeper Urges Action to Protect the Hudson and Mohawk from Heavy Crude Oil Risks

Riverkeeper Urges Action to Protect the Hudson and Mohawk from Heavy Crude Oil Risks

Contact: Tina Posterli, 914-478-4501 x 239, [email protected]

Ossining, NY – January 15, 2014 – Riverkeeper has initiated a campaign urging public action opposing the proposed expansion of an oil terminal in the Port of Albany. This expansion would enable Global Companies LLC, one of the largest petroleum distributors in the Northeast, to heat thick, heavy crude oil so it can be transferred from rail car to barge or ship.

The proposed new Port of Albany facility would enable shipments of a new petroleum product, heavy crude oil, on the Hudson River for the first time. Some dense, heavy crude sinks after a spill (as it did in a 2010 spill on the Kalamazoo River in Michigan), rather than floats, making cleanup difficult, if not impossible. Recent train derailments and fires across the US and Canada have also raised new concerns about the flammability of certain crude oils and the safety of some types of rail cars now in use.

“We’ve seen the catastrophic results of crude oil accidents and spills again and again in recent months,” said Paul Gallay, President and Hudson Riverkeeper. “No regulatory agency has demonstrated it has control over this clearly dangerous activity and can protect us from the kind of devastation that accidents and spills with crude oil could cause to our communities and the environment. There are many serious questions that need to be answered about the impacts of a worst-case spill, and what spill response equipment and plans need to be in place, before shipments of heavy crude begin. Allowing the new Port of Albany facility to move forward without studying the environmental consequences of a heavy crude spill and the ability to respond to such a spill, opens our river and communities up to the possibility of irreparable damage.”

Despite all we’ve been learning from the devastating accidents that have occurred in Quebec, Alabama and North Dakota in recent months, Global Companies LLC has NOT been ordered to fully study the environmental impacts of opening the river to heavy crude oil transport. In light of the extreme risks this product presents, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) was clearly wrong when it granted a “negative declaration” for the company’s application to modify its Article 19 Air Title V Facility permit in November 2013 to allow this heavy crude oil heating facility, stating that the project would have negligible environmental impacts. The negative declaration was not warranted based on the incomplete information available to DEC at that time. The current public comment period on the facility expansion ends on January 31, 2014.

Riverkeeper is encouraging the public to send a letter to DEC, urging the agency to order a comprehensive study of this project’s environmental and community impacts, expand the public comment period, and hold public hearings to consider legitimate concerns raised by this proposal.

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