NY steps up rail inspections during state blitz

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Freight trains passing through New York are under greater scrutiny following accidents elsewhere involving the shipment of volatile crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region.

State and federal authorities have been at busy rail yards and along railroad tracks in Buffalo and Albany this week as part of an inspection blitz, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Friday.

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At the Kenwood Yard in Albany and Frontier Rail Yard in Buffalo, inspectors found a handful of defective wheels and brake shoes on tank cars, findings considered typical, the governor’s office said. The defects have to be fixed before the cars can leave the yard.

An inspection of 2 miles of track and 31 switches at the Kenwood location, owned by Canadian Pacific Railroad, also found loose rail joints and fasteners, which were repaired. Inspectors who examined 4 miles of track and 13 switches at the Frontier yard, owned by CSX, found seven such defects, including a broken rail. The defects must be repaired within 30 days.

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“This inspection blitz has resulted in immediate improvements to some of the state’s busiest rail sites,” Cuomo said. “In addition to performing these and other inspections with our federal partners, my administration will continue to urge Washington to enact improved rail and port safety practices that are both mandatory and enforceable.”

Administration officials were in Washington a week ago to speak against the increased transport of Bakken crude oil through New York following recent accidents in Casselton, N.D., and Lac-Megantic, Quebec. Forty-seven people were killed and 30 buildings destroyed in the blaze ignited by the Lac-Megantic accident.

Cuomo has given state agencies until April 30 to review safety procedures and emergency preparedness related to rail and barge shipments of crude oil.

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