On February 27, inspectors from the NYSDOT spearheaded an inspection blitz at Kenwood Rail Yard and Frontier Rail Yard with officials from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The inspectors did a mechanical inspection of brakes and other safety equipment, including tanker cars that carry crude oil, as well as the rails, ties and other equipment.
They also performed a hazardous materials inspection to ensure that equipment is in line with regulations, including valves, valve closures and placards and decals that describe the cargo being shipped. NYSDOT checked dates for the last tank inspection and pressure test. On February 25, the U.S. Department of Transportation participated in inspections at the Kenwood Rail Yard. The inspection focused on wheel defects that have been identified on tanker cars currently in use for crude oil transport.
"We are taking action to safeguard our communities from the potential risk of crude oil shipments by launching more aggressive and enhanced enforcement of rail safety," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. "This inspection blitz has resulted in immediate improvements to some of the state's busiest rail sites. 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."
These inspections stem from the growing concern regarding the volatility of crude oil from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota and its significantly increased shipment by rail throughout New York state. Last month, Gov. Cuomo issued an executive order directing several state agencies to do a top-to-bottom review of safety procedures and emergency response preparedness related to shipments of rail, ship and barge shipments of crude oil following several severe accidents. This review is due by April 30. The executive order also directed agencies to work with federal partners to enhance preparedness and oversight.