Inspectors find defects at rail yards in Buffalo, Niagara Falls

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — State and federal investigators just wrapped-up their second oil train inspection blitz in New York State.

At the Frontier Rail Yard in Buffalo, inspectors examined DOT-111 tank cars for mechanical problems and found seven defects, including a brake shoe that was worn down to metal on a rail car. Inspectors also discovered three defects for improper placards which tell emergency responders what’s being carried.

RELATED | News 4 has done several investigative stories on the dangers posed by DOT-111 cars. Learn more here

That’s critical information, Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield explained in a News 4 special report last month.

“Anytime we can get good information early in an event it helps us to mitigate that event,” he said.

Inspectors also examined cars at a rail yard in Niagara Falls. They discovered 12 minor defects, and also checked four miles of track and found two switch point defects, which were immediately repaired.

In February, the News 4 Investigative team told you about volatile Bakken crude oil rolling through Buffalo by rail. Some of it is carried on older model DOT-111 tank cars, which federal safety investigators say “have a high incidence of tank failures.”

There have been several train derailments across North America in the past year involving crude. Senator Charles Schumer sat down with News 4 last month to talk about it.

“Thank God we don’t have a major derailment or oil spill every day. But the number is going to grow and we have to get a step ahead of safety,” Sen. Schumer said.

But now the state has stepped up rail safety inspections. Governor Andrew Cuomo says, “Our preparedness and response plans must be adequate ahead of time – not after tragedy strikes.”

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