Sunday, May 13, 2018

Oil Tankers Out, Railway Closes, Future Uncertain

oil tankers in north creekThe last 24 oil tanker railcars that were stored all winter on the banks of the Opalescent River were hauled 30 miles south to the North Creek Depot on Tuesday, May 8th.

Just under 100 oil tankers were stored all winter in the Adirondacks. Widespread opposition from state and local leaders, and an array of environmental organizations, last fall stopped storage of oil tankers at just under 100.

The railroad company, Iowa Pacific Holdings, which stored the oil tankers in the Adirondacks, is also removing its equipment from the North Creek yard, according to a report by Michael Virtanen at Adirondack Explorer.

In March the company said it would no longer pay Warren County and the Town of Corinth the $18,000 monthly payments it is obligated to pay under a contract to lease the 50-mile railroad between North Creek and Saratoga Springs. It has not operated an excursion train to North Creek since April 7th. Iowa Pacific took over the line in 2011 when Upper Hudson Scenic Railroad Co. lost its contract.

Iowa Pacific Holdings owns the Sanford Lake Railway, which runs 30 miles from North Creek to the Tahawus Mine in Newcomb, and leases the Saratoga & North Creek Railway, which runs from North Creek to Saratoga Springs. The North Creek to Saratoga railroad track and corridor is owned jointly by Warren County and the Town of Corinth.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, said the Sanford Lake Railway would return to private landowners, including the State of New York, Bauer said, if it ceases to function as an active rail line used to haul minerals from the Tahawus Mine. No minerals have been hauled in the last two years, Bauer said.

oil tankers in north creek“The removal of these oil tankers from the Adirondacks closes a sad chapter in Adirondack history and showed a corporation that cared little about the concerns of local communities and the Adirondack Park,” Bauer in a statement sent to the press.

Protect the Adirondacks was one of the lone voices that opposed certification of the Sanford Lake Railway in 2010, arguing that the line was defunct and should be returned to private landowners.

Iowa Pacific also faces legal opposition from the Cuomo Administration, which has filed a petition with the federal Surface Transportation Board (STB) to decertify the Sanford Lake Railway between North Creek and Newcomb, arguing that Iowa Pacific has failed to live up to its agreements when that line was opened in 2010.

Photos of Oil Tankers in North Creek provided by Protect the Adirondacks.

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16 Responses

  1. WR Franklin says:

    Where else in the Adirondacks are these old tankers being stored?

    When driving from Watertown to Utica last week, I passed a several mile stretch of old tankers where the rail line ran next to the road.

    Also, last year I saw old tankers in (I think) Saratoga county, can’t remember where.

  2. Andrew B Detar says:

    Thanks to Protect the Adirondacks and Peter Bauer for bringing this to our attention.

  3. Tony Goodwin says:

    These cars being removed from the Tahawus line may not end up going very far since the Mohawk and Adirondack Northern that runs from Utica to Boonville and still, I believe, to Lyons Falls also stores old tank cars. Out of the Adirondack Park, but still an eyesore wherever they are stored.

    • WR Franklin says:

      So now the cars are next to the backyards of lots of houses. There should be a better solution.

      • Boreas says:

        With oil prices on the rise, many will likely be put back into use.

        • Paul says:

          I don’t think that any of these type of cars can be used to transport oil or anything flammable. New regulations have made these obsolete.

          • Boreas says:

            I was under the impression there was still a few more years in the phase-out before they had to be taken out of service or retro-fitted (crude 2018, ethanol 2023, flammables 2025). I believe in Canada they can no longer be used. I think it is only crude that they cannot ship in the DOT-111 cars.

            • Paul says:

              Sounds like you know a lot more about this than I do! Maybe they will get them back in service.

  4. Paul says:

    ” and showed a corporation that cared little about the concerns of local communities and the Adirondack Park”

    I think that there is something missing from this quote? Showed them what?

  5. Paul says:

    Getting that slag out of there and remediating that mine would have been a great improvement as far as scenery goes. Too bad they couldn’t have pulled that off before this thing gets recovered by the owners of the underlying land and eventually the woods.

    • Boreas says:

      Perhaps NYSDOT could remove a lot of it for there own construction and maintenance purposes.

  6. Charlie S says:

    Paul says: ”and showed a corporation that cared little about the concerns of local communities and the Adirondack Park”
    I think that there is something missing from this quote? Showed them what?

    Showed them that they cared little about the concerns of local communities and the Adirondack Park. That’s a corporation for ya!

  7. Charlie S says:

    That’s stretching it a little isn’t it Paul?

  8. Daisy says:

    Does anyone know how to track an individual rail car? The are uniquely identified by number-letter combos and/or bar codes. It would be interesting to follow one of these cars to see where they are being “stored” next…