Firefighting Foam Distributed in Response to Oil Train Threat

Trailers of specialized fire-fighting equipment are being deployed around NY.

In the first weekend of November there were two oil train derailments in Wisconsin. With these two accidents, at least 26 oil trains have been involved in major fires, derailments or spills during the last decade. The frequency of incidents has increased as more oil flows from the Bakken fields of North Dakota. Concerns about oil trains passing along the shore of Lake Champlain have led LCC to call for increased readiness in the event of an accident including having closer access to materials and technical support in the event of a spill. To that end, the Associated Press reports that firefighting foam used to fight oil train spills and fires is being deployed to 19 cities across New York State. The foam concentrate is stored in trailers along with equipment needed to apply the foam to an oil spill. The foam forms a blanket over oil spills to contain fires.

Local fire departments will be trained to use the equipment. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) is working with communities along oil train routes to develop spill-response plans, determine where specialized equipment such as the foam and oil-absorbent booms and pumps should be pre-positioned, and train first responders. The response plans for all 21 counties are to be finished by April 2016.

The trailers are being placed in cities along the north-south and east-west routes of oil trains that cross the state. The first six trailers have been assigned to jurisdictions with the most limited resources - Essex County and the Amsterdam, Buffalo, Kingston, Newburgh and Utica fire departments.

The remaining trailers will be deployed to other areas which have some existing resources, including the Albany, Binghamton, Elmira, Mayville, Olean, Oneonta, Plattsburgh, Rochester, Saratoga, Syracuse, and Watertown fire departments, as well as Rockland County and the New York State Stockpile in Guilderland. It is anticipated that all units will be deployed and operational by early 2016.