Crude Oil


Executive Order 125
In 2014, at the direction of Governor Cuomo, state agencies conducted a coordinated review of safety procedures and emergency response preparedness related to increased shipments of Bakken crude across nearly 1,000 miles of New York State. The agencies issued a report in April 2014 containing 27 recommendations for state government, federal government and industry to take to reduce risks and increase public safety in the transport of crude oil. 

To date, state agencies have started to implement all 12 state government recommendations and have completed five. Specifically, New York State has taken 66 actions to better prepare state and local responders in the event of a crude oil incident as detailed in a progress report released in December 2014. New York State will continue to work to fully implement all 12 recommendations.

These actions include:

  • Preparing First Responders: State agencies participated in CSX’s railroad and tank car training in summer 2014 for staff and local responders in the Hudson Valley, Albany, Syracuse and Buffalo and took part in three preparedness training exercises sponsored by Canadian Pacific railroad and Global Partners LLP. In addition, the State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES) has increased crude oil-related training for local fire service organizations and is developing new training programs. The State DHSES has access to real-time data from CSX hazardous materials and has requested similar access from Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern. The State Office of Fire Prevention and Control has also provided strategic and tactical guidance for fire department operations during the initial phase of a rail incident that may occur involving crude oil.

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  • New York State Foam Task Force:The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Service’s Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) has established and administers the New York State Foam Task Force. The Task Force consists of foam trailers strategically pre-positioned along major transportation corridors, including those used to transport crude oil by rail and water across the State. Each foam trailer is stationed with a local or County agency which has agreed to participate in the Task Force and deploy the trailer upon activation by New York State for any incident involving crude oil or other ignitable liquids. The foam trailers deployed as part of the Foam Task Force include a large supply of foam concentrate and the equipment necessary to produce and apply foam at the high volumes necessary for a large scale ignitable liquid incident, once provided with an adequate water supply. The Task Force’s trailers are supplemented and supported by additional foam trailers and assets operated directly by OFPC.

  • Provision of Spill Response Equipment: DEC has launched a Spill Response Equipment Program, and will be distributing mobile response trailers stocked with spill response equipment such as industrial oil containment/deflection boom, oil adsorbent boom and pads, tools and equipment for boom deployment in waterbodies, and land-based spill response equipment and tools to block storm drains, construct berms, and control oil spills on the ground.  Concurrent with the mobile spill response equipment program, DEC is identifying priority areas throughout the state where permanent protection systems will be constructed.  Physical infrastructure such as permanent boom anchoring points, engineered boom deployment systems, and pre-staged caches of oil boom will be installed in specific critical locations where local first response personnel can activate and deploy in the crucial first minutes of a response, even before mobile response assets arrive on scene.

“The transport of Bakken Crude throughout New York State presents potential risks not only to the communities that sit along the oil routes but to our natural and economic resources. To address these potential risks, New York is committed to preparing local first responders through increased training opportunities, incorporating state resources to support the local response effort, ensuring that local response plans account for hazardous materials response, and increasing coordination and planning between all levels of government and the railroads. These actions will ensure that the transportation of crude oil through New York will be done as safely as possible.”  - John P. Melville, Commissioner, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services

  • Updating and Enhancing Response Plans: DEC secured the commitment of the federal government to update long-overdue oil spill response plans that are required by federal statute. DEC and the United States Coast Guard conducted surveys of the Hudson River in 2015 and assisted the Coast Guard with their update and revision of the Hudson River Spill Response Plans. In addition, DEC, DOH, OEM, and OFPC are developing geographically focused spill response plans for locations along the crude-by-rail corridors in New York State. New York is leading the nation in crude-by-rail preparedness with these inland spill response contingency plans. Prior to New York's current development of the inland and railroad-centric Geographic Response Plans (GRPs), no other state or federal agency had developed such plans. New York has also led the nation with the expansion of traditional water-based GRPs (focused primarily on coastline oiling), into all-hazard GRPs with more robust human resource, critical infrastructure, and environmental protection strategies that are relevant to railroad transportation and the increased fire risks posed by Bakken crude oil.
  • First Responder Training:  DEC and OFPC will also provide training to First Responders and Municipal Works personnel on the GRPs, Firefighting Foam Trailers, Spill Response Equipment Trailers, and fixed Spill Response systems.  These training programs will provide the local First Responders and Municipal Works personnel with the know-how and proficiency required to deploy the spill response and firefighting tools that are being provided and pre-staged by the State.  The training programs will also provide local response and critical infrastructure personnel with knowledge on the properties and health & safety characteristics of Bakken crude oil that will help ensure a more effective and safer response.

"DEC and our partners recognize that collaborative efforts are integral to rapid response in emergency situations like a major oil spill in one of New York's important waterways. Drill exercises help improve those efforts among emergency response agencies and include invaluable training so emergency responders will be able to act swiftly to stop harmful environmental effects in the event of an actual oil spill or train derailment." - Basil Seggos, Acting Commissioner, Department of Environmental Conservation


Interagency Work Group
Pre-incident planning, combined with appropriate training and equipment, is critical to coordination of an integrated and effective response of the public and private agencies and organizations involved in the response and recovery efforts for any significant crude oil incident.  

An interagency working group, consisting of New York State agencies including the Departments of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Health (DOH), Transportation (DOT) and the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), is working with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and US Coast Guard (USCG) to further integrate emergency response plans across all levels of government.  These efforts include updating as necessary Area Contingency Plans (ACP) maintained by EPA and USCG for oil spills and hazardous substance releases for inland and coastal areas, and developing Geographic Response Plans (GRP) to protect against crude oil spills and fires. 

2015 Opportunity Agenda and 2015-16 Enacted Budget
The Governor Cuomo’s 2015 Opportunity Agenda and the 2015-16 Enacted Budget provides for several measures to protect New York from the boom in crude oil transportation. The State will:

  • Hire eight new employees for DEC and six for the Office of Fire Protection and Control dedicated to oil spill planning, training and response;
  • Increase the fees for oil transported through New York to 13.75 cents per barrel. This is an increase from 12.25 cents for oil imported into the state, and 1.5 cents for transshipped oil, irrespective of whether the oil remains in New York or is transferred on to another State;
  • Ensure the solvency of the Oil Spill Fund and provide the necessary funding for staff and associated preparedness costs by increasing the Fund cap to $40 million from $25 million and allowing up to $2.1 million of the Fund  annually to be used for preparedness measures;
  • Establish the New York State Foam Task Force. The State will pre-deploy foam, firefighting equipment, and supplies along rail lines statewide. The State will provide standardized training and support to local agencies to deploy and operate the equipment necessary to fight flammable liquid fires. The State will also continue to increase its own foam capabilities to better supplement and support local resources at any major crude oil incident; and
  • Coordinate State, local and industry planning and preparedness. The State’s interagency working group will further integrate response planning at the local, county, state and federal levels, and improve coordination of emergency planning, preparedness and response efforts with the railroads and terminal operators involved in the shipment of crude oil across New York.