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Oil train classroom-on-rails trains responders

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 5, 2014 at 3:29 pm •  Published: June 5, 2014

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A rolling classroom on rails, complete with four tanker cars and a flatbed rigged with a variety of valves and fittings, made a whistle stop Thursday at the Port of Albany as part of a multi-state tour providing enhanced safety training to first responders in light of increased shipments of North Dakota crude oil.

The railroad is conducting a three-day training program at Albany's Hudson River port before taking its Safety Train to other cities along a route through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois.

"The vast majority of the oil we move is on this route," said Skip Elliott, CSX's vice president for environment and safety. "We do anticipate it growing. There's been an energy boom in this country."

CSX transports crude oil produced in North Dakota's Bakken Shale region to coastal refineries. Elliott said the railroad moves two or three oil trains a day, each with about 100 tanker cars holding 30,000 gallons each. He said that amounts to about one percent of CSX's overall freight traffic.

While the U.S. oil industry maintains that Bakken crude is no more dangerous than some other cargoes, the federal government issued a safety alert in January warning the public, emergency responders and shippers about the potential high volatility of crude from the Bakken oil patch.

Oil trains in the U.S. and Canada were involved in at least eight major accidents during the last year, including an explosion of Bakken crude in Quebec that killed 47 people. Other trains carrying Bakken crude have since derailed and caught fire in Alabama, North Dakota, New Brunswick and Virginia.

"We train thousands of emergency responders each year, but in this tour we've augmented the training to discuss crude by rail," said Carla Groleau, spokeswoman for CSX Transportation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken steps to address the danger posed by oil trains, including increasing emergency preparedness training, conducting more inspections of train cars and tracks, and calling for tougher federal regulations. A training exercise with a simulated tanker fire was conducted at the Albany port last month.

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