NY governor orders emergency response review for oil rail shipments

Wed Jan 29, 2014 3:17pm EST

Jan 29 (Reuters) - New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday ordered state agencies to review and update emergency response plans for rail shipments of crude oil that pass through the state in the wake of recent derailments out of North Dakota's energy patch.

In the statement announcing the review, Cuomo cited an oil derailment and subsequent explosion in July that killed 47 people in the Canadian town of Lac Megantic. Two other shipments of crude oil have since derailed in the United States, causing explosions that have alarmed regulators, residents and government officials.

Some 71 percent of oil produced in North Dakota was transported by rail in November, or around 800,000 barrels per day (bpd), according to that state's Pipeline Authority. That is up from 500,000 bpd transported in November 2012, when 58 percent of the oil had been transported by rail.

The recent derailments have put shipments of crude under federal scrutiny.

Cuomo said his administration also wrote a letter to federal officials asking them to quickly address safety concerns about crude oil from North Dakota's energy production region, known as the Bakken.

"The safety of our communities, our residents and our natural resources must be the highest priority and we cannot afford to wait for a catastrophic accident to assess and reform the way this crude oil is transported through our state," Cuomo said in the statement.

The Port of Albany, on the Hudson River in upstate New York, handles about 120 carloads of North Dakota fuel per day, state officials said.