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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Cuomo Opposes Tank Cars On Adirondack Line

Tank cars lined up on tracks near the Boreas River. Photo by Brendan Wiltse.

In an appearance in Warren County, Governor Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday that he is “100 percent” opposed to the storage of tanker cars on railroad tracks in the Adirondacks.

The Glens Falls Post-Star reports that Cuomo, when asked about the tanker cars at a news conference, described them as “unsightly, out of character with the Adirondacks.”

“We oppose it 100 percent, and we will do everything we can to stop the owner from storing on the tracks,” he is quoted as saying.

Last week, the state Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency had expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the tanker cars and pledged to look into “all legal and regulatory options to ensure the environment and the public are protected.”

Protect the Adirondacks has started an online petition calling on the governor to stop the storage of tank cars. As of this morning, more than 3,400 people had signed it.

Iowa Pacific Holdings moved an estimated twenty-eight tanker cars onto empty tracks along the Boreas River in Minerva early last week.

Oil on the tracks. Photo by Brendan Wiltse

The Explorer published a video of the cars passing through North River and later published aerial photos of the cars after they reached their destination.

Thanks to Brendan Wiltse, we now have more aerial photos of the tanker cars. Wiltse, one of the founders of Adirondack Wilderness Advocates, took the photos with a drone last Friday. He also took close-up shots of the tankers and of small amounts of oil on the tracks.

The close-ups confirm that the cars (or at least some of them) are owned by UTLX, a Chicago-based company owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the holding company controlled by billionaire investor Warren Buffet.

Among other things, UTLX manufactures and leases railroad tank cars. Its website says the the cars are used “primarily by the chemical, petrochemical and food industries.”

Iowa Pacific has refused to say what the tank cars along the Boreas once contained, but it says all the cars have been emptied, cleaned, and inspected.

Iowa Pacific is the owner of the Saratoga & North Creek Railway, which runs a tourist train between Saratoga Springs and North Creek. It leases those tracks from Warren County and the town of Corinth.

Iowa Pacific owns the tracks between North Creek and the old mine at Tahawus in Newcomb. It says it needs revenue from tank-car storage to help keep the tourist train afloat.

Environmental groups and local public officials have come out against the storage of tank cars.

Ed Ellis, company’s president, told Warren County supervisors recently that Iowa Pacific would back off the storage plan if it were compensated for lost revenue—estimated to be in the seven figures. The company made a similar demand when people objected to the storage of tank cars in a Chicago neighborhood.

This  shot shows the proximity of the tank cars to the Boreas River. Photo by Brendan Wiltse.

 

Phil Brown

Phil Brown has been editing the Adirondack Explorer since 1999. When he isn't at his desk, he's usually out hiking, paddling, skiing, or doing something else important. You can follow his adventures and his musings on the Adirondacks in the Explorer and on this blog.

3 Responses

  1. kathy says:

    I would hope he would take a stand on this cause he is almost on my s… list,especially when it comes to protecting this area.

  2. Ron Carlson says:

    An oil stain that very well could be confused with the author and a string of “emptied, cleaned, and inspected” tank cars — the railroad’s perfidy seemingly knows no bounds.

  3. Ron Carlson says:

    And, another thing, you might well consider whether the cars shown are 110 tankers (not up to current code, but grandfathered, ie think Lac Megantic), upgrades, or newer safer models.

    The angels and devils are in the details, and the emotional regressive lefty BS, especially from the governor, written above serves no one.

    The Adirondacks, devoid of meaningful longterm economic value (ie more than twigs, berries, and granola), is in everyone’s interest and not mutually exclusive.

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