We’re used to seeing both freight and passenger trains travel up and down the Hudson River every day. But did you did you realize that the freight train that delayed your commute this morning could have been transporting up to 30,000 gallons of crude oil in each car?
Since late 2011, the Hudson Valley—and New York State at large—has experienced growing concern over a “virtual pipeline” that moves crude oil from the Bakken shale formation of North Dakota to refineries on both coasts. The local problem? The Hudson Valley has become an important arm of this pipeline, with large quantities of oil being delivered to the Port of Albany and then transferred to East Coast refineries, by barge or ship, or south toward Philadelphia, by train on Hudson River rails.
Many are worried about the harmful impact of spills or derailments on the Hudson and surrounding environment, particularly considering the less-than-perfect track record of oil shipment by rail. New York saw the collision of two empty oil tankers and a train derailment in December 2013, and this past February a train of empty oil cars derailed just north of Kingston.
To encourage local dialogue and education on the issue, Basilica Hudson is working with Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, and the Hudson Sloop Club to host a free community meeting and presentation titled “Crude Oil on the Hudson: Virtual Pipeline, Real Risks” on July 9. The event will be an opportunity to learn more about how and why the virtual pipeline operates, certain hazards that it poses, and proposals of future threats. From 6-8pm in Basilica’s North Hall.