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Albany Foam Trailer Deployed

Government officials Wednesday announced that the City of Albany has received a foam trailer from the State Office of Fire Prevention and Control.

This week, the city of Albany took possession of a foam trailers officials say will improve the capability to fight potential oil fires along area railroad tracks, on highways, and at the Port of Albany. 

The trailer can haul 660 gallons of foam and will be available to first responders countywide. Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the trailer complements a foam truck already stationed down at the port.  "I was visiting with a group of seniors about, oh, six months ago and one of them asked me about the city of Albany, because he said 'You know I have concerns. We're the State Capitol, there's an FBI building here, we have these trains coming through. Are we really prepared in the event of an emergency?' And what I was able to say to him was 'We have great partners in the state and in the federal government who recognize that the city of Albany is at a real crossroads, and that it's important that we have the tools that we need to keep not only our residents safe, but the tens of thousands of people who come here to work, to do business, to play, that we keep them safe as well.’"

Congressman Paul Tonko of New York’s 20th district lauded the collaborative effort between agencies involved in obtaining the foam trailer for the Capital Region. He cited the ever-present danger of DOT-111 tank cars making up oil trains carrying Bakken crude through downtown Albany, especially close to some of the city’s most challenged neighborhoods.  "I have co-sponsored HR 1804, which is a measure to immediately undo the use of 111's as a transport train for Bakken crude."

The bill also raises penalties for hazardous material shipping and requires America's rail systems to develop response plans for situations where there are spills.  "I've also sponsored HR 237, which is a measure in the House that addresses volatility, the pounds per square inch that are allowed as threshhold."

Critics have long suggested the volatility factor is a cause for concern that should be more carefully scrutinized. "So in this case we would limit that to 8.5 pounds per square inch. I would note that, about a year ago, North Dakota moved to a 13.7 psi factor for volatility."

Tonko, like Sheehan a Democrat, adds he has long believed additional research should be done on the way hazardous materials are shipped across the country.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy, a former city firefighter, welcomes the foam trailer. "To have a resource like this, not just in the city of Albany, but throughout the county that can be utilized and can be delivered anywhere, within probably 10 minutes, is uh, it's huge!"

Kevin Wisely, Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, says deployment of the 19 foam trailers underscores Governor Andrew Cuomo's commitment to protecting residents from crude oil.  "They're being strategically placed near population centers located along major rail lines and waterways throughout the state. This initiative allows for a response time of two hour or less from the time of activation by the state. These foam trailers were acquired and procured by the division of Homeland Security emergency services in support of the New York State Foam Task Force, formed at the direction of Governor Cuomo to help bring leading edge firefighting equipment to firefighters and to address the challenges posed by the transportation of crude oil."

Officials say foam trailers have been stationed in cities along the north-south and east-west routes of oil trains that cross New York, from Plattsburgh to Rockland County and Buffalo to Albany.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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