Poughkeepsie…Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Rob Rolison announced today that the legislature passed a unanimous resolution on April 13 to request that the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) complete a study of the potential impacts of a crude oil spill in or near the Hudson River. The bipartisan measure was sponsored by Rolison, Majority Leader Angela Flesland, Assistant Majority Leader Donna Bolner, Minority Leader Barbara Jeter-Jackson, Assistant Minority Leader Alison MacAvery, and others and passed by a vote of 25 to 0. The bill was overwhelmingly approved by the legislature’s Environment Committee on April 9. There is no cost to county taxpayers associated with the study.
The resolution requests that the DEC complete a full environmental impact study, known as a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), related to the impacts of a crude oil spill in or near the Hudson River. Booming domestic production has resulted in a greater frequency of oil shipments by rail. On January 28, 2014, Governor Cuomo issued Executive Order 125 directing state agencies to perform a review of “safety procedures and emergency response preparedness related to rail and water shipments” of crude oil.
Approximately two crude oil freight trains travel through neighboring Ulster County per day, and each day one barge passes along the Hudson River between Ulster and Dutchess counties carrying more than four million gallons of oil. Dutchess County shares 103 linear miles of shoreline with the river, according to the county Department of Planning and Development. Since December 2013 there have been at least four oil-train derailments in New York State, including an incident in the Town of Ulster in February 2014. Plans to expand a terminal in New Windsor, Orange County could double the number of trains and barges carrying crude oil in the vicinity of Dutchess County residents and businesses.
“I applaud the Legislature for taking the responsible steps necessary to ensure the safety of our residents. We are calling on the DEC to bring its considerable resources to bear on a study that will serve as an additional emergency planning tool for Dutchess County in order to mitigate any impacts from a potential oil spill,” said County Executive Marc Molinaro.
“Residents and businesses in the City of Poughkeepsie and elsewhere could be directly impacted in the event of an oil-spill-related disaster. I applaud my colleagues for taking proactive steps to increase public safety and protect our environment,” said Rolison.