Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, August 21, 2014

Contact: Mollie Matteson, (802) 318-1487

Oil Spill at Albany Terminal Spotlights Ongoing Threat to City, Hudson River

ALBANY, N.Y.— A 100-gallon oil spill last night at the Albany oil-shipping terminal owned by Global Partners underscores the continuing controversy around rapidly expanding crude-oil transport by rail through the city, along the Hudson River, and through scores of communities in New York state.

In the past three years, the amount of crude oil shipped through Albany has surged from essentially zero to nearly 3 billion gallons per year, and all of it arrives by trains traveling through western New York and along the Mohawk River, or along Lake Champlain and the Hudson River. In 2012 the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation granted a permit for the initial expansion of oil shipping at the Global terminal. But it was only after the department was on the verge of issuing a new permit late last year, which would likely result in the import of heavy, highly-polluting Alberta tar sands, that citizens were awakened to the increased threat to local neighborhoods, water quality and sensitive wildlife.

“This small spill should serve as a wakeup call to all of the communities along the Hudson River, the Mohawk River and Lake Champlain,” said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist at the Center for Biological Diversity. “The drastic increase in oil by rail through our region is a serious threat to communities, freshwater and wildlife.”

The Hudson River is home to 17 federally protected species, including shortnose and Atlantic sturgeon, sea turtles and shore-nesting birds. The recent dramatic increase of crude-oil transport in the river corridor poses a new threat to these already-vulnerable species. The Center recently filed a lawsuit to compel updated, more complete oil-spill response planning for endangered species in the river and New York Bay.

In the past year, multiple fiery oil train derailments have occurred in the United States and Canada. An oil train wreck this past April set the James River on fire in downtown Lynchburg, Va., and a massive derailment in Quebec last summer killed 47 people and incinerated part of a small tourist town. Nationwide citizen groups are increasingly mobilizing to fight the expansion of crude-by-rail operations, which pose substantial safety and pollution risks to local communities, but offer little or no economic benefit.

“Fiery derailments are scary and devastating but only one of the many risks of fracking oil from the ground in North Dakota and elsewhere,” said Matteson. “Our continued dependence on fossil fuels is changing our climate and fouling our land and water. We need a ban on further oil-by-rail transport until it can be shown safe, and we need to move away from reliance on fossil fuels.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 775,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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