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Environmental Group Pushes For More Oil Freight Train Safety Measures

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The Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge, as seen from Tarrytown, Feb. 26, 2014. (credit: Paul Murnane/WCBS 880)

The Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge, as seen from Tarrytown, Feb. 26, 2014. (credit: Paul Murnane/WCBS 880)

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TARRYTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) – The derailment of a freight train pulling empty oil cars in upstate New York has raised concerns with environmental groups voicing opposition to the hauling of shale oil along the Hudson River.

According to the Association of American Railroads, trains will slow down, track inspections will be stepped up and a routing system used for high-security cargo will cover crude oil shipments as a result.

But as WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported, Kate Hudson with the Riverkeeper environmental group said the efforts are lacking given the potential for danger with shipping Bakken crude oil.

“It is much more flammable and explosive. Only recently have federal regulators said be careful, but don’t stop transporting it,” she told Murnane. “Leaving it to the railroads and the oil companies to act voluntarily is not going to accelerate a response that we need to have now.”

Riverkeeper is demanding a New York State study of potential impacts and greater resources to respond to a spill in the Hudson Valley.

Meantime, Sen. Charles Schumer said voluntary standards agreed to by federal regulators and the rail industry for oil shipping should be amended to phase out unsafe tanker cars and reduce train speed in populated areas.

The New York Democrat said Wednesday that the agreement announced by the federal Department of Transportation and AAR doesn’t go far enough to protect upstate communities. Trains pull hundreds of tankers of highly volatile crude oil from North Dakota cross New York daily in a virtual moving pipeline to East Coast refineries.

The agreement announced last week proposes numerous voluntary safety measures but doesn’t bar companies from continuing to use cars known as DOT-111s that are at risk of rupture in a crash.

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