Concerns about oil trains in North Country - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Concerns about oil trains in North Country

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Concerns about oil trains continue in the North Country. Residents want the flammable liquid away from their homes and some are suggesting safer ways to move the oil.

Mel Frechette lives by the train tracks in Plattsburgh.

"I'm extremely concerned about these oil tankers. The potential for disaster is grave. It's not minimal it's grave," said Frechette.

Many northern New York residents like Frechette are worried these oil train cars could explode, which happened in Quebec last year, killing 47 people.

"You're carrying time bombs, it's crude oil, and it's a threat to our communities, our lives and our environment. And I can't accept that," said John Andrus of Plattsburgh.

More than 100 concerned citizens and environmental officials gathered at Plattsburgh City Hall to discuss the issue.

"We're really concerned a little bit of oil can cause an awful lot of damage. So we'd like to see them reroute the traffic. If we can't get that done, I think we'd like to see the DOT-111 faulty rail cars eliminated. They should not be carrying oil of kind or any kind of hazardous material because they are so prone to leaking when the trains derail," said John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council.

Trains carrying crude oil pass through Plattsburgh just feet from residents' homes. Local officials are asking the railroad company to work on safety upgrades to the train tracks.

But emergency officials in the North Country stress that train derailments are rare and residents shouldn't worry.

"They continue to do maintenance and replacement of rail and track work. So any work that they're doing to the rail line is a plus. It certainly reinforces it and makes it that much stronger and theoretically thereby improves safety," said Eric Day of Clinton County Emergency Services.

Emergency officials say first responders in the area are preparing for a possible oil train derailment.

"Local responders are trained to deal with flammable liquids but not typically in that quantity. So it would be something very different but we're training for it and have some capabilities to respond to it," said Day.

There are also concerns about the trains affecting the economy in both New York and Vermont if oil spills into Lake Champlain.

"All we got to do is put the pipeline in and get these trains out of the way," said Frechette.

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, they're proposing to replace older DOT-111 tank cars with new ones in the next two years. 

Click here for more stories on oil trains.

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