Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A Legal Case Against Storing Tank Cars In Adirondacks

A lot of people in New York State, including the governor, are upset that Iowa Pacific Holdings is storing empty tank cars on tracks in the Adirondacks. But what, if anything, can be done about it?

Iowa Pacific says that railroads are overseen by the federal government and so the state doesn’t have legal grounds to stop the storage.

But Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, argues that storing rail cars has nothing to do with rail transportation and so the state can assert jurisdiction. And he believes the state can take steps now to force Iowa Pacific to remove the cars.

The Adirondack Explorer interviewed Woodworth, who is a lawyer, about the legal case to made against Iowa Pacific.

Click here to read the Explorer story.

Photo by Brendan Wiltse: tank cars along the Boreas River.


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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack. Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

20 Responses

  1. Liz wallin says:

    I hope that this can be STOPPED. I feel it’s very dangerous to store those tanks in our backyard. Send them back to Iowa where they came from

  2. John Jongen says:

    Many, maybe all, of these tank cars, are of the infamous DOT 111 variety, deemed too dangerous for transporting crude oil. Their single-hull design was intended for transporting non-volatile cargo, like cane sugar syrup. Despite several deadly chain-explosions of these ‘bomb trains’, CSX continued to operate them as they were gradually replaced by double-hull tankers. Meanwhile CSX Railroad, and other railroad carriers, callously exposed millions of us living in the blast zones along their routes. These RR people have just one stellar record: making huge profits at our expense.

  3. tom prevost says:

    What about those stored along rte.12?? Other than an eye sore, they are dangerous to public. There is notable leakage of liquid of those stored on rte. 12. What safety measures to insure youths do not enter them, or other injuries? what about mandated weekly or biweekly inspections? mandated 24/7 onsite security? Make it uneconomical to store in New York as other states have.

    • Paul says:

      Sorry, how will “youth” enter them and injure themselves? Probably much much less likely on this uber remote spot where kids rarely are compared with a rail yard near Chicago?

      A nasty eye sore – but again type of argument doesn’t hold much water. How many kids have been injured on the other stored cars that have been up here for a while that have been described here?

  4. Charlie S says:

    There’s a powerful statement in the photo above and it goes to prove once again what comes first in the minds of capitalist and their bottom line which is not you or me or virginity.

    • Boreas says:

      I agree Charlie. Not so “scenic”. Not to mention residual oil, grease, and paint residue infiltrating the soil and then into river a few feet away. But they will make a nice playground for the kiddies – not to mention yahoos trying to see how big of a dent a 30-06 slug will put in the side.

      • Paul says:

        Do you really know that there will be “residual oil, grease, and paint residue infiltrating the soil and then into the river” as you claim? Of course you have no idea. You are just making up stuff. But if there was any truth it would be disturbing, but again we have no indication that this is the case. If it were the state might have some recourse but for now you can’t make this baseless claim. I guess you can on a blog.

        At this point all we know is that it is a growing eyesore. One that the state asked for when they authorized this type of use.

        • Boreas says:


          I wish I were making this up. Have you ever seen how any paint oxidizes? Or peels around rust? (What about the graffiti paint – did the artist use environmentally safe paint?) Have you ever seen a rail greaser that transfers grease to EVERY wheel that passes that are ubiquitous on a rail line (to lubricate and minimize wear on corners)? Have you ever seen excess grease on a train undercarriage and bearings from the lubrication system? Are all of the valves and ports spotless? Am I making this stuff up? Where do you think it goes – train heaven?

          Do I know HOW MUCH is getting into the soil and river, no. It is dependent on many variables. That’s up to the dwindling DEC or someone to figure out. Passing cars on a track leave little of themselves behind in any one spot. Store a few hundred of them for a year or two and you have a different story. Doesn’t matter what type of rolling stock they are. This is true of any machinery. Just like an old car sitting outside for a few years – oil leaks, paint oxidation, ferrous oxides from any rust, etc. accumulate under it and are moved via water to water sources. Normally these things are spread evenly along the highway causing widespread pollution, but if they sit on your pavement for a while, they will make a mess – spot pollution. Don’t store them and they won’t. Keep them moving.

          • Boreas says:

            What I failed to mention above is that much of the matter that drops or washes off of the cars tends to be sequestered by the fact that the cars creates an “umbrella” effect which keeps the area underneath the car dry. So you can’t only test for run-off pollution when the cars are stationary. After they sit for a year or two and then MOVED, now those dry spots are hit with rain and you get a spike in run-off into the nearest water supply or water table. If each car that sits for a year gives off only a cup (optimistically) of mixed oil/grease/paint/rust residue, multiply that times a few hundred cars and you have a bad situation along the Boreas River when the cars are moved away.

    • Paul says:

      Virginity? What? Charlie, I am curious, why do you live in, and in essence, support a capitalist system that you seem to despise? Have you made your living in that system?

  5. Charlie S says:

    Virginity – natural state, pristineness, inartificiality….
    I am here by chance Paul just like you and the rest of us. It wasn’t anything having to do with self will that popped me out of my mother’s womb and positioned me into this madness we call society. I live here not by choice but because of circumstances not of my doing.And if I had a choice on the matter on when and where I popped out to see daylight for the first time I would not have chosen this era in time thank you.

    The best things in life are free Paul there’s just some things money cannot buy…. cannot buy decent men or woman, cannot buy peace….. This capitalist system that evidently makes you feel whole does so only because you are doing well I would surmise. Many people aren’t doing well they are victims of circumstance, victims of a very corrupt system which you seem to admire greatly which is part of the patriotic fervor that seemingly is in you and has evidently swept the country not necessarily for the better which time will prove unfortunately.

    This capitalist system falls short in many ways if you wish for me to start making a list I could easily do so but need I? You should already know! One thing you should know is that the wealth in this country is concentrated in a few hands which is also known as economic inequality which has caused great suffering (and will continue to do so) to many of our fellow brothers and sisters not just in these not so united states but all over the world. Great suffering to the earth and other living things not just selfish humans….. too. I can write you a list once again.There are many dangers that come with the way we do business Paul. Do you need a list?

    This very issue about storing ugly tanker cars in the pristine wilderness is another example of some of the threats due to wealth concentrated in the hands of a few. You’ll come on here and ask me how right?

  6. Charlie S says:

    “yahoos trying to see how big of a dent a 30-06 slug will put in the side.”

    I never thought of this Boreas! A dent! Surely a 30-06 will pierce the metal on those tanker cars. Will they be of any more use then? Not to plant a seed in the minds of agitators but if them cars are meant for storage only until they can be further used then bullet holes in them would make them obsolete and then there’d be loss of revenue to the corporation. See what you started!

    • Boreas says:


      Actually, I don’t think many civilian bullets could penetrate them, otherwise we would have Swiss-cheese tankers leaking fluids everywhere. Think road sign carnage. But I guess we’ll see.

    • JohnL says:

      Your last statement sounds suspiciously like you’re advocating violence Charlie. You should be careful.
      Also, since you brought up making a list of the shortcomings of capitalism, I was wondering if you might do us the honor of making a list of the systems available in the world that work better. I’m sure the world is waiting for your wisdom.

      • Charlie S says:

        Read into what I say as you wish JohnL. I should be careful about what? About words? Really? I’m not foolish enough to advocate violence and besides I abhor violence and why should I be afraid to speak my mind besides? I know! Because we’re living in the ‘See something say something’ era. That’s what got Anne Frank into her Nazi fix. I gather from your tone that you’re of the mind that it’s alright for the author’s of fiction books to be jailed because of the things they devise in their mind and sell to a readership.

        Capitalism! I have no desire to make you a list ‘of the systems available in the world that work better.’ I don’t even care and what has that to do with what I say above? You’re trying to justify wrongs (atrocities in many cases) by comparison. Once again….there’s just some things money can never buy JohnL. I’m aware that the corrupt system capitalism works in a large degree to keep many of us secure in material things (and so secure psychologically) and others have more than they’ll ever need, but how long do you think it is going to last? I mean really. And what about a hundred years from now? That generation? That’s the problem! We don’t look too far ahead JohnL.

        • JohnL says:

          Wow Charlie. I’m speechless!!! (Note the triple explanation points) From leaking rail cars to Anne Frank to corrupt capitalism to Iraq to mass killings. Moral equivalency taken to the Nth degree. Do you stay awake nights pulling all these thoughts together into one concise easy to read screed.

    • James Falcsik says:

      Not a good idea to suggest any kind of vandalism to the stored rail cars. Any act of vandalism to the cars, or the track, or anything else within 25 feet of the center line of the track, is a federal crime; a federal felony charge would apply.

      • Boreas says:

        Yet another reason to store cars in an area that can be easily patrolled and monitored – like a rail yard for instance. Risk and laws don’t mean much to some people – just makes things more interesting. Certainly didn’t stop the graffiti artists. Was it Utica or Rome a few years ago where miscreants fiddled with some rolling stock and it crashed into a building causing mega-damage? We all know this type of behavior needs no prompting.

      • Charlie S says:

        Who’s suggesting vandalism to stored rail cars James?

  7. Charlie S says:

    “Risk and laws don’t mean much to some people..”

    As is evident by yet again another mass killing in this country. Human lives don’t mean much to some people either do they Boreas? The capitalistic system is working well. I mean after all that’s what it’s all about…money. Right? Invade countries illegally and kill their people outright so we can keep the capitalist happy and our way of life flowing. Right? We hear the talking heads once again saying how horrible this ‘yet another’ mass killing is yet it is no different than all of the bombs we dropped on Iraq which killed far more children and their mommies and daddies than all of the mass killings combined….so far.. We promote, support and often encourage the very things that abhor us when it hits close to home in this capitalistic United States of american idol.