Tuesday, December 19, 2017

State Steps In To Oppose Adirondack Oil Tanker Storage

stored tanker carsGovernor Andrew Cuomo and Basil Segos, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released a petition to the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) arguing against continued use by Iowa Pacific Holdings for rail operations and storage of oil tanker railcars on the 30-mile Sanford Lake Railway, which runs from North Creek to the Tahawus Mine in Newcomb. The State is requesting immediate action.

Click here to read the petition.

The petition was prepared by the DEC with input from other state agencies. It was signed by the DEC Counsel. The petition makes the argument that the rail line must be abandoned due to the unique history of the Adirondack Park, sections that pass through the Forest Preserve and Article XIV protections under the State Constitution, and the State’s long history of conservation and environmental protection in the Adirondacks.

The petition argues that the particular history of the “Tahawus Branch” (Sanford Lake Railroad) precludes storage of railcars. The creation of that railroad was specifically for hauling minerals from the mine. The State argues the rail line was originally intended to facilitate the transportation of freight from the former mine owned and operated by NL Industries.” The State says that has not happened and that storage of rail cars violates the conditions that allowed Iowa Pacific to operate the rail line.

In the State’s press release it states: “DEC’s initial support for a freight line on the Tahawus Branch through the Forest Preserve was intended to provide an environmentally sound alternative to truck traffic, foster economic development, as well as recreational opportunities for snowmobile use. DEC never intended, nor agreed, that Iowa Pacific should turn this corridor in the pristine, forever wild wilderness of the Adirondack Park into a commercial disposal site.”

The State cites opposition of local governments to support its petition. In the petition the State formally rescinded its support in 2010-2012 for reopening the Sanford Lake line since it argues that Iowa Pacific has failed to use the rail line for hauling minerals from the mine and allowing a seasonal snowmobile trail. The State ends the petition with a series of motions seeking to compel a favorable decision from the STB.

The State also sent a letter to Iowa Pacific. In it the state informs the company of its petition with the STB, putting the company “on notice” of its plans to file an application with the STB seeking “adverse abandonment” of the Sanford Lake line.

Public opposition to this plan was fierce. Resolutions of opposition were passed by Essex and Warren Counties. Storage of oil tankers was widely opposed by environmental groups and the general public.

Photo: Tanker cars stored in the Adirondack Park.

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Peter Bauer

Peter Bauer is the Executive Director of Protect the Adirondacks.

He has been working in various capacities on Adirondack Park environmental issues since the mid-1980s, including stints as the Executive Director of the Residents' Committee to Protect the Adirondacks and FUND for Lake George as well as on the staff of the Commission on the Adirondacks in the Twenty-First Century and Adirondack Life Magazine. He served as Chair of the Town of Lake George Zoning Board of Appeals and has served on numerous advisory boards for management of the Adirondack Park and Forest Preserve. Peter lives in Blue Mountain Lake with his wife and two children and enjoys a wide variety of outdoor recreational activities throughout the Adirondacks and is a member of the Blue Mountain Lake volunteer fie department.

Follow Protect the Adirondacks on Facebook and Twitter.




80 Responses

  1. Todd Eastman says:

    Good!

  2. Mike Prescott says:

    Good, GOOD !!! About time

  3. Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

    Everyone should be thanking Iowa Pacific for this – it’s been a gift for every organization and politician looking to raise funds and score points on how they are champions of the wilderness.

    Cuomo’s looking at this as a chance to get in front of the mob so he can demonstrate ‘leadership’ and build credibility as a ‘friend’ of the Adirondacks. This is certainly cheaper than turning a defunct tourist attraction into yet another “Adirondack Gateway” or setting up a chain of Glamping Yurts… in another wilderness area. It’s not going to hire any more forest rangers though.

    There’s a few inconvenient facts in the way as it happens.

    1) AFAIK, Iowa Pacific owns the right of way, not NYS – so it’s not exactly covered by all the wild forest and wilderness laws the Governor is appealing to.
    2) AFAIK, Iowa Pacific is complying with all of the laws and regulations that cover storage of tank cars on a rail line. They’re supposedly cleaned and safe. If not, the state would already have grounds on which to act. As they haven’t, well draw your own conclusions.
    3) IMHO both Cuomo and Segos are seriously underestimating how complicated appealing to the STB for abandonment is – but given their track record on the Adirondack Scenic Railroad, that’s not a surprise.
    4) I would be surprised if Cuomo does not seek a way to take control of the ROW and turn it over to the rail trail industry. Governor Clinton got to build the Erie Canal, Dewey got his name on the Thruway – so all Andrew Cuomo has at this point is getting his name on a statewide bike trail system.

    For the record, I am not in favor of storing rail cars in the Adirondacks on other than a temporary basis. Railroads have to earn money to stay in business though, and this is one way to do this. If the state and the communities on the line want the jobs, the local purchases, and revenue that comes from having a working railroad, they should be looking for ways to support it that would make this car storage unnecessary. Funding freight transfer businesses would help take trucks off the roads, for example, as would promoting more rail tourism.

    The Cuomo administration has been less than attentive to the rail situation in New York State, and it’s not good for the immediate or long term future. If the Governor and DEC are serious about addressing climate change, investing in railroads is a proven way to reduce the carbon burden from transportation sources. It’s a shame that so many environmentalists have developed a knee-jerk antipathy to rails. They could be a huge part of the answer to rebuilding the state to be more sustainable and resilient.

    • ADKresident says:

      Well written!

      Just this week in the news was information on how Como wants to give free health care to illegal aliens all this while the state is projected to run a $3,000,000,000 deficit.
      He is positioning himself to run for president he doesn’t give a #$%& about any rail cars. I wouldn’t be surprised if the railroad din’t drop a “campaign donation” to him via a lobbying group. That way they can keep the storage, he can get his headlines and then just complain that “It’s Trumps fault”.
      Remember back when Microsoft was sued by the justice department for anti trust? They paid out Billions of dollars.
      What does Microsoft do now? They pay lobbying companies $350,000,000 a year to keep the government away. A few envelopes get dropped along the way.

      • Boreas says:

        ADKResident,

        So are YOU for or against storing unused railcars next to waterways and wilderness areas in our Forest Preserve?

        Cuomo wasn’t the first person to come out against this – local governments, concerned citizens, and environmentalists were among the first. They appealed to Albany. Albany responded. Albany may not give a crap about railcars, but it is their job to respond to their constituents. Everything a governor does should be in support of his/her state and constituents. Should they ignore pleas for help? They may not have a leg to stand on, but how else should they respond?

    • Todd Eastman says:

      Thanks for beating a dead iron horse…

  4. Bill says:

    The railcars empty I see no harm in this

    This is A not in my back yard attitude. The company has every right to store these cars on their property

    • Boreas says:

      Bill,

      Yes – it IS a NIMBY attitude. Except this is not a benefit to anyone but IP – who agreed to use the line for freight, not storage of unused cars. And this is happening in no one individual’s back yard – it is in the heart of the Forest Preserve – a back yard belonging to all of us. IP has plenty of other areas they could store these cars, but it is the NIMBY phenomenon in other areas that has pushed these cars into our FP. I don’t have a problem with IP storing these cars in areas designed for railcar storage – I am against it in the heart of the FP – especially adjacent to the river and other waterways.

      • Paul says:

        In a sense the state need to be careful not to make a positive argument for IP’s storage of the cars. The best place to store unused rail cars is on tracks that are not in use for transportation or freight in a place where they are far out of the way – where it’s unlikely few people will see them or mess around with them. Is that in a back yard like this one?

      • bill says:

        I sit in the park on a dead end road- no electricity – state rights rule – cant get a line in here- have to burn fuel- forced by NY State again to a the simple rights denied. I worked for 38 years in the environnmental industry as an executive. i am all for preserving the environment.

        State should not be involved, property is owned and should be managed by the railroad according to their rights.

        Stay out of it. Nothing has been don wrong.

        I fear the folks that used the tracks as a right of way are upset and have no business on RR property.

        Tell me where something is going wrong – otherwise stay out of their business.

        No one cries abut the Robber Barrens that cut vast amounts of woodland to create their estates yet we maintain them – stop

        The RR has every right to their property.
        Why don’t you start a no fund campaign
        and purchase the rail segment? There is an Idea

    • ADKresident says:

      Bill,
      Now stop using common sense here, the emotional people will be upset with you,
      they will call you names and tell you how unedumedcated you are, you simply cannot understand!
      Merry Christmas

  5. James Fox Jim Fox says:

    Wahoo! Roll ’em out!

  6. Paul says:

    Petition? What does this mean? This will be keeping some lawyers busy, not sure it will do much else?

    • Boreas says:

      Paul,

      I agree. It is about all Albany can do, but they have to at least provide some evidence they oppose the storage. Hail Mary passes are sometimes caught. Especially what sounds like a request to tear up the line once the cars are gone. Is that the way I read it?

  7. Mark Colligan says:

    Frankly I’m surprised there’s so many comments in favor of storing the railway cars within the state preserve. As an avid outdoors man, it seemed quite obvious to be a bad idea. This land is sacred and needs to be protected for generations to come. No individual nor corporation has the right to mar the pristine beauty of this resource. It is forever in stewartship of the people of New York and needs to stay that way.

    • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

      There’s just a little problem or two with that stand.

      The biggest is this: the state forest preserve is a patchwork of private and public lands and multiple land use classifications. Your blanket statement calling for preserving it all inviolate for all time overlooks the inconvenient presence of people, some of whom live there, some who just visit, some who have businesses there, and so on.

      The only way to realize your vision for the forest preserve would be to move all humans out and remove every trace of their presence. Not that some people aren’t trying…

      There’s an NCPR story on the ski trains that helped kick start the Adirondack winter recreation industry that observes in passing that the Adirondacks are a great place to live, but a really hard place to make a living.

  8. Tony Goodwin says:

    Iowa Pacific may “own” the line, but the totally unique (for rail lines anyway) history of how it was originally created does have some bearing in this case. Absent the WWII emergency need for titanium, there would have had to have been a constitutional amendment to allow its construction. That it continued in use after the war was not without further controversy, but it certainly served a useful purpose until titanium from that mine was no longer economically sound.

    Enter Iowa Pacific in 2011 to buy the line and start removing tailings from the abandoned mine area. Seemed like a great idea at the time. For the record, I did not oppose the sale at the time as I was all in favor of having the big, ugly tailings pile, visible from several summits, disappear. At the same time, I questioned whether those tailings could ever be delivered to an end user at a competitive price. Experience since then has shown that it wasn’t possible to load, transport by rail, interchange with CP Rail, load onto barges, and finally load onto trucks for final delivery at a competitive price. If it had been, more tailings would have been shipped.

    So, here we are with the line approved by the STB in 2012 as a common carrier for the purpose of moving freight – the same reason the original line was exempted from the requirement to be authorized by a constitutional amendment. Storage of unused railcars is clearly not consistent with that exception. As far as I know, no cars have yet been stored in a way that prevents the eventual hauling of tailings. However, the number that can be stored without blocking freight traffic is very small compared to the compensation Iowa Pacific claims it should get for not storing cars.

    What is stored there so far is not visible from any place the public might possibly go. If the cars are indeed “clean”, then there is no immediate environmental hazard. But what we must realize is that if this is the only way the Saratoga North Creek RR can survive, then long distance (i.e. 50 miles or more) tourist service is not a viable business model for the Adirondacks.

    • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

      Tony, I submit your last leap of logic is a truly Olympic level effort. Passenger service has seldom been viable on its own for a purely private enterprise railroad – which is why Iowa Pacific’s plans included the freight potential of the line as part of their business plan.

      To the list of other things that are not viable on their own, you should include Adirondack air service that has to be subsidized, roads in the Adirondacks supported by taxes, and rail trails which are so bad economically they can only be placed where a railroad has already done the grading and bridgework – and it still takes massive government subsidies to build them and maintain them.

      • Tony Goodwin says:

        All successful rail trail, and that is most of them, are maintained with local funds and volunteers because both entities recognize that rail trails are a wonderful amenity for local residents and in many cases bring in outside tourist dollars as well. SNCRR tried to operate passenger service without any subsidies, and it has seemingly failed. The ASR says they can operate all the way to Lake Placid without any subsidy, but all previous experience with passenger rail says otherwise.

        I definitely believe that Amtrak has been shortchanged for many years and does deserve a greater subsidy for the markets they serve. Neither Saratoga to North Creek or Utica to Lake Placid qualify as “major markets”.

      • Tony Goodwin says:

        All successful rail trail, and that is most of them, are maintained with local funds and volunteers because both entities recognize that rail trails are a wonderful amenity for local residents and, in many cases, bring in outside tourist dollars as well. SNCRR tried to operate passenger service without any subsidies, and it has seemingly failed. The ASR says they can operate all the way to Lake Placid without any subsidy, but all previous experience with passenger rail says otherwise.

        I definitely believe that Amtrak has been shortchanged for many years and does deserve a greater subsidy for the major markets they serve. Neither Saratoga to North Creek or Utica to Lake Placid qualify as a “major market”.

        • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

          Sweeping assertions: “All successful rail trail, and that is most of them” – by what standard, and who decides?

          “Maintained with local funds and volunteers” – but still need outside money to get built, and continued subsidies.

          “a wonderful amenity for local residents” – which if the case, why don’t they simply build trails on their own?

          And why would you think trading a railroad for a mere amenity is a good deal, or that there are no local residents who want to keep it?

          You argue from your conclusions, Mr. Goodwin

          • Tony Goodwin says:

            I am not suggesting as of now that the SNCRR be converted to a rail trail.

            As for the Adirondack Rail Corridor, that line has already been abandoned twice in 1972 and 1981. Only the prospect of the 1980 Olympics kept it alive that long, and in the end it only transported about 5,000 of the reliably estimated 450,000 who visited Lake Placid during those two weeks.

            Based on their tax filings, it appears that the ASR is kept alive only by their Polar Express and other trains that never even reach the Corridor. That service should certainly continue because it is sustainable and serves a purpose in Utica. Otherwise, service in the Corridor remains questionable – especially going to Tupper or Lake Placid.

            • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

              Always the same talking points Mr. Goodwin – the line failed in 72, it failed in 1980.

              Never a mention that from a handful of miles in 1992 it’s gone back to being able to use the entire line again. Never a mention of the thousands of annual riders. Never a mention of the Rail Explorers. Never a mention that the ridership continues to grow.

              The only reason you haven’t called for converting the SNCRR into a rail trail is because you’re still busy trying to kill the ASR.

  9. Charlie S says:

    Boreas says: “IP has plenty of other areas they could store these cars…”

    They should go to Pennsylvania where the heads of that state are whores for the oil and gas industry. Corporations first living things last with them. Very evident. Must be a red state! Red…the color of blood. The Keystone pipeline was named after the Keystone State. Pennsylvania….a pin cushion for oil and gas wells. Reports are still coming out on the ill effects of this practice. Last week there was a report in one of the local rags about high cancer rates in children coinciding with being in the vicinity of fracking wells in Pennsylvania. I don’t believe in coincidences.

    This debate about storing empty rail cars in our beloved unique Adirondack woods is an extension of the arrogance which the oil and gas industry display on a daily basis. “Up yours!” is what they’re saying to the ignorant masses. Their bottom line is all that matters and they’ll lie until their teeth fall out to get their way. People fall for their lies due to their knowledge-gap.

    Just over a month ago 210,000 gallons of oil leaked from the Keystone Pipeline in South Dakota. There was a leak in 2016 also. Recall those controversial debates in the recent past and how the oil companies said it was the safest way to transport that nasty crude. And then our idiot in chief Trump comes along and guess what? “It’s all yours Trans Canada!” Expect species to disappear at a much more rapid pace these next three years………………………….and worse.

    Empty rail cars with an oil tinge stored in Pennsylvania would fit right in with what they have there already….an industrial wasteland. We have some of the best water in this country we shouldn’t be taking chances with it just to appease a few greedy bastard giants who greatly lack what this society desperately lacks…soul.

    • Charlie S says:

      “we shouldn’t be taking chances with it just to appease a few greedy bastard giants who greatly lack what this society desperately needs…soul.”

      I corrected myself!

    • James Falcsik says:

      Wow Charlie S; what a load of ultra-left bull crap. Pennsylvania has nothing to do with the Keystone Pipeline, and you surely are aware of that. As for the harlots that make up PA state leadership, our ultra-left Governor Tom Wolf has been in bed with the liberal environmental lobby since his election, doing his best to try and regulate the gas industry to death.

      The article you reference on fracking and health risks to babies was funded by another ultra-left organization, the MacArthur Foundation, but surely there would be no skewed agenda seeping into that article from the sponsor. Do you really care about the babies anyway? Save the trees and kill the babies is the mantra of the “Blue States”, right? Don’t even mention the word soul until you fix that abomination.

      Hydraulic fracturing to increase well production has been around since the 1860’s, and modern fracking techniques have been employed since the 1940’s. Never heard a word about it until the Marcellus and Utica shale formations were successfully fracked and the opportunity to harvest trillions of cubic feet of natural gas became a reality. I remember back in the 1990’s the environmentalists were pushing the use of NG for power generation and CNG for automobiles. Now that it is possible, we can’t have that kind of industry creating jobs and wealth now can we? Nobody in PA has a water well that is 7,000 deep.

      All industrial processes need to be executed with care and be reasonably regulated to ensure safety for both people and the environment. PA has problems with scars left from a time when there was no regulation of industry, but that is not the case today. The Adirondacks might not be the best place for the storage of empty tank cars, or rail cars of any type for that matter, but it is not dangerous the way it is characterized here.

  10. JOHN WHITE says:

    THE CARS ARE EMPTY THEY ARE NOT HURTING ANYONE..
    THE COMPANY IS MAKING MONEY AND THEY EMPLOY LOCAL PEOPLE..

    I THINK IT GREAT..

    • Paul says:

      Your caps lock is jammed?

    • Boreas says:

      Just curious – how many LOCAL people does this storage enterprise employ vs. the original number for shipping tailings? I would assume it is a net loss.

      Seems to me a good compromise for all would be to make storage on side tracks dependent on freight shipment to remove tailings or ore. No active use – no storage. That way IP is complying with their original agreement. But I feel maintaining this line within the FP simply to store unneeded rail cars would eventually be problematic financially and environmentally.

      Is this really a precedent we wish to go unchallenged? This isn’t the only section of unused track within the Park and IP isn’t the only carrier. Do we want to promote tourism and regional beauty while turning little-used track – especially those next to scenic waterways – into storage of little-used rail cars? Nothing says environmental concern like rusting hulks likely dripping toxins next to and into our waterways. Limit storage such as this to already industrialized areas OUT of the Park instead of turning the FP into a network of rusty iron.

      • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

        “Nothing says environmental concern like rusting hulks likely dripping toxins next to and into our waterways.”

        Way to play the fear card, Boreas.

        • Boreas says:

          Larry,

          I live a few hundred yards from where a thunderstorm washout carried an old train station and significant amounts of rail underlayment into Lake Champlain only ~20 years ago. There were several other washouts along the line nearby. No one saw that coming. This was the well-maintained Canadian Pacific line that runs from Albany to Montreal which now is used for Amtrak and freight – including crude oil shipments.

          Yes, I am absolutely playing the fear card. If C-P just happened to have rolling stock stored on that track or even a passing train when the rails went into the drink, it would have been even more of a disaster. This type of thing should be a wake-up call – especially with severe weather ‘events’ allegedly becoming more frequent. Any chance of this happening to an infrequently maintained track in a mountainous region with steep slopes and little soil a few yards from the river?? Plus, we KNOW there are cars parked there. It may be a worst-case scenario, but not impossible. The ‘impossible’ happens every day.

          I don’t really care how clean the cars/engines are – do we want them bobbing in the river heading to Albany during a flood? A picture in the ADE allegedly shows a rusting Erie Lackawanna engine near North Creek immediately beside the river with what appears to be a pretty steep slope in the foreground. Unless the engine and running gear have been removed from that engine, there is a significant amount of oil and toxins sitting there just above the river. What are the chances of a washout there? No one knows, but it certainly should be given a little consideration, should it not?

          • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

            Boreas, you are wildly over-generalizing to a one-time traumatic event.

            If you want to get really paranoid, start thinking about all the hazardous stuff you share the roads with every day. Think about all the stuff sitting in warehouses and the back of businesses all around you that are potentially lethal accidents waiting to happen. If you choose to stress out over rail cars that have been cleaned out and are sitting quietly in the woods, then I suggest you may need to reconsider your priorities.

            If you insist on worrying, I expect the chances that we’ll be at war with a nuclear-armed North Korea are far greater at this time than a flood wiping out the rail siding.

            I’m not saying there shouldn’t be concern about what’s happening on the rail line, but hysteria is not productive.

            • tom prevost says:

              Larry, I assume you are volunteering to allow IPH to empty the water out of the tanks and use your yard as a disposal site? OK as long as it is in someone elses yard??

            • tom prevost says:

              Larry, the difference is the issues you are quoting are regulated and monitored. I am sure if someone wanted to put an asphalt plant on the property next door to you, you would be arguing all kinds of issues. It is OK as long as it is in somebody elses backyard.

              • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

                Tom Prevost – Thank you for your concern and your assumptions about me.

                I happen to live around the corner from the Selkirk rail yard, one of the biggest in the northeast, with everything you can imagine going through it all the time, including oil trains. A little further up the road is the Sabic Plastics giant production facility. Lovely aromas from there. Lefarge Cement across the street from my kid’s school used to be one of the worst point sources of mercury in the Northeast until they upgraded their plant recently.The blasting in their quarries behind my house occasionally shakes things a little. All kinds of natural gas pipelines run through the area.

                It’s kind of you to volunteer my yard for IPH to dump out their cars, but they’ll have to take a number.

                If you really believe the issues I raised are all regulated and monitored (And IPH isn’t), well good for you.

            • Boreas says:

              Larry,

              I can look at that debris in the lake every day. It happens. No hysteria here. One time event? Look at the number of new slides in the HPW a mile or two away. All it takes is one heavy rain or flood to do a lot of damage. It would be likely to happen more often on a rarely used and rarely monitored line. You, if anyone should know that. I don’t insist on worrying. I am insisting they not be there to worry about. What do the taxpayers have to gain by taking the risk?

              • Larry Roth Larry Roth says:

                If I understand correctly, IP has been doing a fair amount of work to bring the line back into service. If that is the case, I would be surprised if they were not aware of any impending hazards. In any case, the line is certainly getting a lot of inspection now.

    • Charlie S says:

      Some of us would rather see trees and/or natural beauty not empty tanker cars John. And why is it always about money! Money money money. Geez!

  11. ADKresident says:

    People get upset when a tanker car that was used to transport molasses and sunflower oil is stored on a siding?

    • Charlie S says:

      An ugly tanker car is an ugly tanker car ADKresident! I suppose we should all just sit back and do nothing as they industrialize the world around us hey?

      • ADKresident says:

        Yes.
        Just remember that 80,000,000 people are added to the planet every year.
        That is more than the population on PA, NJ, NY, RI, CT, MA, VT, NH and ME.

        The USA population has swelled from 200,000,000 in 1972 to
        330,000,000 today. By 2050 we will hit a half BILLION people.

        If you think the world isn’t changing then you need to have your meds reevaluated.

        If Rocket Man gets a nuke to hit the USA then we will enter a nuclear winter (after the economic crash).

        The Adirondacks will be covered with 300′ of snow year round for 50 years solving all these issues.

  12. tom prevost says:

    An alternative is DEC and state can require routine, i.e. bimonthly reports of inspections of EACH tank car with test results for contamination including soil samples taken below each tank. Along with this require 24/7 security to prevent people from entering the ROW and climbing, entering, stealing contaminated parts, etc. In other words make it cost prohibitive. Towns and county can require security also. Reading history, this is the approach taken in other states to limit storage in populated areas.

    • Paul says:

      Sure this is fine but you need to let the RR know something like this ahead of time. If the actual rule was that the cars need to be inspected only prior to storage (what I think they said was done here) then that is what you (us as a state) should expect. You can’t just make stuff up as you go along. I think the main question here is just if car storage is a legal use of the RR? Did the state ever indicate that it wasn’t back when they did the lease? You can’t just keep moving the goal posts.

      • tom prevost says:

        Paul, they changed the goal post when they changed use from hauling to storage. The change in use requires a SEQR. This is no different than CSX changing from normal to high speed experimental track in Genesee County. You are telling me they have the right to store on tracks and sidings in Saratoga? What you are also saying is although they have a mining permit to recover the ore, but now they own it they have the right to store hazardous waste???

        • Paul says:

          No I am just saying that the TSA (or whatever it is called) has regs that they either did or did not follow.

          • tom prevost says:

            FTA regulates rolling stock for safety. They have few if any environmental regulations except for spills. Environmental issues are generally deferred to state and local agencies. Case in point Eastman Chemical vs NYS DEC. vinyl chloride leakage. FTA turned the spill management and court cases to to NYS DEC and Health Dept.

            • Paul says:

              Looks like they have numerous environmental regulations. I think your comment here might not be too accurate?

              https://www.transit.dot.gov/regulations-and-guidance/environmental-programs/national-environmental-policy-act

              • Boreas says:

                “Looks like they have numerous environmental regulations.”

                For now… Ask the current administration – particularly the EPA head – what they think about federal environmental regulations.

                • Paul says:

                  Yes. This looks like ones that are related to legislation and not executive mandate. Just letting Tim know that his comment regarding “any” does not appear at all to be accurate. Happy to hear an explanation on how these are going to become nonexistent?

                  • Boreas says:

                    “Happy to hear an explanation on how these are going to become nonexistent?”

                    Keep your ears open. Environmental protection rollbacks were one of the platforms President Trump ran on. And his choice for EPA head certainly looks like he is serious. Check out the regulations that are already being targeted – any doubt we will see more? I can’t predict the future, but it looks scary for the environment.

  13. Todd Eastman says:

    So it’s not a junkyard if tracks are involved?

    Humor abounds!

    • tom prevost says:

      Does not to be a junk yard to require special conditions. As a member of a county planning board, we often required special conditions as did the DEC and NYS Health Dept for storage of potentially hazardous materials or general safety concerns. An environmental review is conducted and any safety and environmental concerns are noted and specific requirements are included in the SEQR. Upon acceptance of the SEQR findings The local municipality, DEC and Health Dept issue compliance rulings. This is no different than request to store any hazardous, potentially hazardous or safety materials. Even gas stations are required to follow this procedure.

  14. tom prevost says:

    Paul and all, As a past member of a county planning board, I see this issue as potentially more dangerous than the empty tank cars. The argument IPH is using, if upheld, allows for the use of tracks and other similar facilities to store about anything un monitored. This would include environmental waste, waste chemicals from both chemical manufacture and the petroleum industries, Worst case nuclear waste. Many may look at the Adirondacks for this due to its low density population and limited local economic resources to fight it.

    • Boreas says:

      “Many may look at the Adirondacks for this due to its low density population and limited local economic resources to fight it.”

      Tom,

      I think you hit the nail on the head. If I recall correctly, IP ran into lawsuits around residential Chicago when trying to store cars there. ‘So let’s store them where nobody lives – in the woods. Out of sight, out of mind – we can deal with any small-town hicks’ complaints.’ Seems reasonable to a businessman from out of the area. However, the “woods” IP chose for storage isn’t typical, but rather is highly protected – both for scenic reasons and environmental reasons.

      They need to be stored in a relatively safe location where they can be reasonably monitored for toxins and vandalism.

      • tom prevost says:

        Boreas, This is not just a local problem. There are cases pending in many states. IRH is only one of many companies doing this. There are 100,000’s of cars sitting on sidings and purchased private tack. They are not only petroleum but chemical and polymer transport cars. They have served their useful life and do not met current standards for use. Recovery companies will not accept them as when the wheels are removed they are considered scrap and all kinds of environmental rules apply with expensive equipment and testing required. Thus, as expensive it is, the owners are paying companies such as IRH to store them as rail cars.

    • Paul says:

      Tom, what do you mean “un-monitored”? They are being inspected prior to storage? That isn’t un-monitored?

      • Boreas says:

        Paul,

        Monitoring is an ongoing or continual series of inspections. One inspection isn’t monitoring. What is IP’s monitoring/inspection program on unused rolling stock? If they have none, they are un-monitored. I would assume they are monitored at least visually every few months, but who knows? And what authority monitors the monitors? Simply documenting inspections have taken place can be fraught with non-compliance.

        Perhaps more importantly, as has been asked before, what were the methods and criteria for proclaiming the cars “clean” at the last inspection? “Clean” is a very ambiguous description in a conveyance this complex. If I remember correctly, a state official inspected all of the cars in a day (there weren’t too many at the time). How detailed and thorough is this type of inspection? White glove? Visual? Sniff test?

        • Paul says:

          The methods and criteria seem to be very distantly outlined in the regs. At least to a layman like me, maybe you have more expertise. So a car that is clean and has nothing toxic will pick it up over time sitting in an Adirondack siding? I don’t like seeing these cars there but the idea they will somehow transform into a toxic mess seems kooky? Lets’s be honest in the discussion.

          • Boreas says:

            Paul,

            I would refer you to Tom Prevost’s posts. I have mentioned many times that the lubricants, paints, and corrosion are not found in nature. What one agency describes as “clean” simply means clean enough to satisfy them. It doesn’t mean they are clean enough to be sitting beside a river for extended periods of time. What was the inspector’s verdict on the old locomotive sitting in North Creek? I wouldn’t want one sitting over my well. Why do you suppose junk automobiles are not allowed to be stored next to rivers? Is that rusty locomotive in N. Creek any different? No fuel or oil drips from an old locomotive? How many locomotives will IP be storing?

            My point is, all rolling stock is designed to be used on a railroad. They may accumulate hundreds of thousands of miles – many through toxic environments. They all have lubricants, paints, and other chemicals on them and in them – both intentionally and unintentionally. There are ‘accepted’ industrial cleanliness standards for cars and locomotives in use. But they will not pass a white glove test, just like most motor vehicles would not. Getting this stock to a point where it can be guaranteed no toxins will end up in the air or water would be impossible. So any inspections stating any of this rolling stock is “clean” only means relatively clean – good enough to be considered clean in an industrial setting or traveling on the rails. Sitting in place for extended periods of time near a water supply is another matter entirely. The more cars stored, and the longer they are stored, the more the risk. Until someone actually studies what is coming off of this rolling stock and what potentially COULD come out or off of them – and their cumulative effects on the environment, myself and others are not going to be very comfortable.

  15. tom prevost says:

    What is clean when IPH claims clean? It is my understanding no chemical testing has been done. It simply states there is no raw petroleum or petroleum products stored in the tanks. The permit does not address any other hazardous chemicals. When one drives by the cars stored along Rt 12. that sweet smell one encounters is dichloromethane, a very hazardous cleaning agent. The tanks contain water!!! But the water is not just water. It contains calcium borate, copper triazoles, copper arsenate, etc. these are antirust agents and miocides to protect the cars from rusting through and becoming full of slime. What about the lead based paints used years ago flaking off. I would love to see GC/MS and AA testing reports. They pick places like the Adirondacks as the local community is to nieve to even know the right questions to be asked. Petroleum and chemical industries are not even a minor part of our industries, so they have no experience in dealing with them.

    • Paul says:

      No, as I understand it, the cars have been inspected prior to being cleared for storage.

      • tom prevost says:

        Paul, have you seen the storage report of the cars. what is empty? What procedures (chemicals) are added to preserve the integrity of the tanks? Carefully read the environmental regulations. There is a lot of legalese about good intent. BUT if you have had any familiarity when spills have occurred in NYS, it has been the NYS DEC hazmat who has responded and the State has been the one who has levied fines. Also, this is a private siding, exempt from FTA regulations. similar to sidings in manufacturing plants such as Kodak, Xerox, Dupont, etc. The issue about meeting FTA regulations only applies when transporting on common carrier lines.

    • Paul says:

      These cars are way too new for lead based paint?

  16. Charlie S says:

    Larry Roth says: “I expect the chances that we’ll be at war with a nuclear-armed North Korea are far greater at this time than…”

    North Korea has every right to have nukes!

  17. Dan Bogdan says:

    Around December14 of this year an 18 wheeler spilled around 200 gallons of diesel fuel in the Park (south of Tupper Lake). I’m outraged! It’s time to ban these insidious, ugly, polluting vehicles from the Park! Quick, call Andrew and Basil and have them get rid of all of these nasty semi’s in the Park. They are more of a hazard than stored tanker cars. Ship more by rail instead! What? Limited rail infrastructure in the Adirondacks? Downsize the road system and from the money saved build up rail infrastructure. We’d be better off environmentally and economically for it. And by the way, I work in a rail yard with stored tankers (and active ones) and have yet to see any leakage and/or odors from them. The only odors I occasionally smell come from a local coffee roaster and/or several restaurants when the wind is right.

    • D.R. Simmons says:

      Dan,

      Did you work at NYPA some years ago?

      • Daniel Bogdan says:

        Yes, I did work at the Power Authority as an engineer. A great place to work if you like water and electricity….lots of water and lots of electricity….. And I do like water and electricity. Did you work there too?

  18. Charlie S says:

    James Falcsic says: “Wow Charlie S; what a load of ultra-left bull crap….”

    > For one you got the ultra-left label wrong with me James! Them’s people a little too extreme for me at times. I consider myself an Earthling who can think for himself and I have more conservative in me than you might imagine. Pennsylvania the Keystone State….very fitting with the pipeline wouldn’t you say? I was surely aware I was just throwing out a few punches. You liked that one I see!

    “our ultra-left Governor Tom Wolf has been in bed with the liberal environmental lobby since his erection…”

    > I don’t like either party James but since we’re stuck with either / or I favor (hesitantly at times) the party that supports living things. Tom Wolf is in bed with the environmental lobby you say. It’s one or the other. Would you rather him be in bed with the oil and gas lobby? Don’t answer that question.

    “The article you reference on fracking and health risks to babies was funded by another ultra-left organization, the MacArthur Foundation, but surely there would be no skewed agenda seeping into that article from the sponsor.”

    > I know nothing about ultra-left organizations James I do not follow them. You seem to think the story is a lie (there sure is a ton of that going around) so maybe it is if you say so. I was just conveying what I read and at the same time it sure does make sense that when you industrialize an area and spread poisons cancer could be an end result. This has been proven at least once in our lifetime.

    “Save the trees and kill the babies is the mantra of the “Blue States”, right?”

    > Kill babies? That’s extreme! Or ‘ultra’ as you would say.You’re anti abortion I gather! That’s fine and dandy but what do you think about the wars we create and all of those living babies in foreign lands who lose life and limb due to our bombs? Are you all for that James? I know of some Tories who raise their voices on this very issue abortion yet are all for killing babies in foreign lands. You? I love children (generally) and the idea of harm being done to them is not my cup of tea. A fetus born into this world is too often forgotten by the same people who raise cane fighting to get he or she here yet once he or she arrives they can care less…..but let us fight hard to bring them into this sorry world hey James!

    “Hydraulic fracturing to increase well production has been around since the 1860’s, and modern fracking techniques have been employed since the 1940’s.”

    > Yeah but I thought the injection of all of those nasty toxic chemicals that might just come within reach of our precious water veins below ground are new? Water is the lifeblood. We need clean water yet look at how much we have already lost and how much more is threatened! Did you not know James? Which is more important to you….water, blades of grass, etc… or oil and gas?

    “we can’t have that kind of industry creating jobs and wealth now can we?”

    >Jobs and wealth! More important than grasshoppers, frogs, turtles, salamanders, butterflies, birds, bees, soil, water…. Trees! Do you not see wherein the problem lies James? Do you not see the year 2050? 2525?

    “Governor Tom Wolf ….. doing his best to try and regulate the gas industry to death”

    > So let us deregulate! Let us allow the corporations to pollute willy nilly until blood falls from the sky. Hey James?

    “Don’t even mention the word soul until you fix that abomination.”

    > Abomination – Evil, destruction, poison, spitefulness, befoulment, the worst, hate….

    All these definitions tend to lean in a direction contrary to the school I attend James.
    Whose side are you on?

    “The Adirondacks might not be the best place for the storage of empty tank cars, or rail cars of any type for that matter, but it is not dangerous the way it is characterized here.”

    They’re ugly James! They are out of character with what the Adirondacks truly are all about…beauty in its rawest form. Reason enough to be rid of them.

  19. Charlie S says:

    ADKresident says: “If Rocket Man gets a nuke to hit the USA then we will enter a nuclear winter (after the economic crash)……….The Adirondacks will be covered with 300′ of snow year round for 50 years solving all these issues.”

    > I’m glad you brought this up ADKresident because there’s things nobody seems to be talking about yet they are shoved right up our noses by the very people and things we support.
    Per instance! Last year during Donald Trump’s nasty campaign against Hillary he brought up nukes. Out of nowhere came nukes! He said we need to build a bigger nuclear arsenal which seemed really odd to me since nobody else even hinted nukes at that time and besides we have the biggest arsenal in the world and more than we’ll ever need. When he brought this up I got to thinking, “This guy’s an idiot.” Since then that thought has been over and over confirmed. At the very least we need to get rid of all nukes the world over. Pronto.

    Now all of a sudden North Korea is a threat to us because Kim nut yong is anxious to re-up his arms, plus a strong desire for nukes, and we condemn him yet we’re the instigators in the first place and nobody talks about this. Nobody!!! The world is very leery of America, especially since we illegally invaded Iraq and who can blame them? Just go along with the puppets whoever our choice of puppets are and stupidly support said puppets. AND… at the same time fight over healthcare for all in this country, fight each other, party against party, and divided we’ll stand if it’s the last thing we do what with all of the more pressing issues at hand and how very sad it all is. And yes you are right…the Adirondacks plays a hand in this as well just like you say because if we don’t fix not only our internal problems but also our global problems… the problems in our own backyard are enhanced.

    You just have to look at what people support to know where the root of our problems lie. Yet we are blind to this very fact. Not all of us blind…just those who are not stepped away from their ignorance blind.

  20. ADKresident says:

    Charlie S.,

    From what I read of your comments I surmise that you do not watch much of world news. North Korea has been on this path of a nuclear weapon for the last 25 years.
    I am not overly concerned with them as I know plans are being worked and re-worked to annihilate the place.

    The big concern is Iran.

    Iran wants to nuke Israel, when they do, Israel will nuke back, probably triggering Pakistan and India to lob a few too. They really like each other too.

    Trump brought the subject up and people are now paying attention, that is what he does.

    I also surmise from your comments that you consider the USA to be an inherently evil country. You seem to suggest that Americans like to go around the world slaughtering people for fun.

    Saddam Hussein violated more than a dozen UN resolutions and stated he had weapons of mass destruction. They asked him before they hung him why he kept saying it and he said he did so to keep everyone scared of him.

    You seem to forget how Obama obliterated Libya and killed Qaddafi . He may have been a nut job but he kept the place contained and exterminated the radical Muslims. Now the Muslim brotherhood runs the place.

    I’m sorry, I do not see a root to any problems.

  21. Charlie S says:

    “Charlie S., From what I read of your comments I surmise that you do not watch much of world news. North Korea has been on this path of a nuclear weapon for the last 25 years.”

    > I do not ADKresident I don’t need to…to know the truth! Yes North Korea has been on this path but do you think we really help matters by our arrogance? Tell me please!

    “I am not overly concerned with them as I know plans are being worked and re-worked to annihilate the place.”

    > There’s that Tory attitude again (not to stereotype nor to be partisan but to reveal a very acute awareness) ….drop bombs and annihilate a population just to get to one man and all our problems will be solved which is NEVER the way it works. I’m trying with you ADKresident but your attitude! It sends chills up and down my spine. Evidently you have not learned from recent history and denial evidently seeps in your veins.

    “I also surmise from your comments that you consider the USA to be an inherently evil country. You seem to suggest that Americans like to go around the world slaughtering people for fun.”

    > You’re joking right? You really want me to go there? What the hay was the Iraq invasion with all of those bombs and destruction and death? Pudding right ADKresident?

    “The big concern is Iran. Iran wants to nuke Israel, when they do, Israel will nuke back, probably triggering Pakistan and India to lob a few too. They really like each other too.”

    Do you not find it curious how much we (especially the conservatives in this country < factoid!) consider Iran to be such a threat yet it is we (especially the conservatives in this country Saddam, as evil as he was, kept that whole region in control ADKresident. We supported him while he was killing his own people, raping his own women……. Then all of a sudden we (GW Bush the conservative gets credit for this) change our minds and have the guy hung. How’d you like to have friends like that? You do (and plenty of them) if you support this radical conservative ideological nut-job movement in this country which is trying to gather a stronghold as we speak. I hope for the sake of all life on this planet it fails!!!

    Since the conservatives in this country initiated that horrible war over there that whole region has been breaking up. Haven’t you heard????
    AND….Iran is becoming a rising power SINCE! And do you really believe we (the conservatives in this country) caused all of that mess due to Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction? Please don’t answer that one as it will further prove your ignorance on these matters. Not that I know everything but the above-mentioned is not “fake news.”

    “You seem to forget how Obama obliterated Libya and killed Qaddafi….”

    > I’m not an Obama fan what does he have to do with this besides?

    “He may have been a nut job but he kept the place contained….”

    > Yes and read what I said above. You seem to be selective in accordance to your partisan beliefs.

    “I’m sorry, I do not see a root to any problems.”

    > Yes and once again…herein the problem lies.

  22. Charlie S says:

    “Do you not find it curious how much we (especially the conservatives in this country < factoid!) consider Iran to be such a threat yet it is we (especially the conservatives in this country < factoid!) who have given rising power to Iran in that whole region? Or haven't you heard? Which news is denying you reality? American conservatives initiated the breakup of that whole region! American conservatives are due 95% of the credit for Iran's new rise in power. How can you not know this?"

    I forgot to revise before I sent out the above long missive so here is a partial revision to clarify some of my hasty response to ADKresident who surely is smarter than what he comes off to be?

  23. ADKresident says:

    Charlie S.,

    You are entertaining.

    Very emotional.

    I saw these reactions from people when Trump was elected, people uncontrollably
    crying and melting like snowflakes.

    Please consider seeing your medical professional.

    On a cold day like today please do not burn any fossil fuels.

    Have a nice day.

  24. Charlie S says:

    I should know better than to talk politics ADKresident as I know it goes nowhere and it definitely doesn’t make me feel as good as when talking about other issues but boy is it easy to get going what with some of the nonsense and twisted views that some people have. I’m not pro at communicating and/or debating politics but what it is about the truth that some people deny sure is a mindset I will never relate to and it’s too bad more people just plain old don’t speak up or are afraid to and I’ll be darned if i’m going to be one of those. And if i’m talking hogwash prove me wrong and put me in my place instead of going on with ‘little’ words.

    “Very emotional. I saw these reactions from people when Trump was elected, people uncontrollably crying and melting like snowflakes.”

    > There are some very smart people out there ADKresident, people who have their heads screwed on right, people who really care, people who are all about other than that vainglorious image they see in the mirror……people who have a soft spot in their hearts for all things good, people who sometimes uncontrollably cry and melt like snowflakes. Emotionally intelligent people I might say! AND… for someone to melt like snowflakes there must be warmth around them in order for them to do so. I will take oodles of them over even eentsy-weentsy amounts of the other…the frosty, heartless, dull stiffs who walk among us without a care for much of any thing outside of their wee spheres. Heaven knows there’s enough of them going around to maintain instability on this planet for generations to come.

    • ADKresident says:

      Pardon me Charlie. I am an engineer by trade and now I am a commodities and stock trader. I make all of my decisions based on facts not emotion. When you feel this or feel that your going to be wrong most of the time.

      So someone moves ten tankers of olive oil from the port of New Orleans to a plant in Albany. The shipper stores the tankers on a siding and everyone looses their minds.

      Most people do not know the state inspected the tankers on the siding and found no issues.

      Can’t mention that.

  25. Mark Wieland says:

    It almost serves the railroad to be hit with this because they have for over one hundred years behind the scenes made phoney environmental claims to stop river barge traffic on rivers and than would dismantle their draw bridges after getting the go ahead from the Army Corp of engineers to stop traffic forever like they did on Ansville Creek near Peekskill closing all kinds of future recreational commerce. But two wrongs don’t make a right. Once gone you’ll never get it back, those tank cars aren’t hurting anything, get a life and leave the railroad alone, or just run every business out of your state, Stupid!

  26. Mark Wieland says:

    Time for a Beer, dark German style, no GMOs please. I think the tank cars are clean. Nite Nite

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