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Statement from County Executive Daniel P. McCoy on Need to Take Action to Move Residents of Ezra Prentice

July 23, 2014

“While I agree the costs to protect the welfare and safety of those residents living with bomb trains in their backyards should ultimately be borne by rail and oil companies, I disagree that those living in the shadow of bomb trains should wait for federal action to create safer standards for rail transportation of crude oil. Experts acknowledge that even if federal action were taken immediately ordering improved standards, it would take years for new oil tanker cars to come online. The people of Ezra Prentice live every day with the danger of these cars literally in their backyard. That is why I’m asking for the Albany Housing Authority to explore seeking federal assistance to relocate these residents now. The Authority did just that in 1997 with the Edwin Corning Homes after a fatal fire. After that tragedy, The Housing Authority applied to the federal government for a Hope VI Grant to demolish those homes and build new and safer housing. This time, let’s not wait for a fatality before we act. Let’s explore what options are available to these residents now to remove them from the immediate health and safety issues that they face.

The Mayor asked to be provided with all facts and reports leading to my conclusion that the residents of Ezra Prentice Homes live in immediate danger. I believe that the danger posed by bomb trains within 50 feet of children’s bedrooms is a self-evident threat. To understand the exact danger posed by these bomb trains, one need only look at the carnage that these trains inflicted on the good residents of Lac-Megantic, Canada. I have visited the residents at Ezra Prentice. I have seen fear in their eyes. I have inhaled the oil fumes that engulf children on the playground. I have heard the complaints of sick and elderly residents and their pleas for action. Recalcitrance is a luxury that the men, women and children at Ezra Prentice can ill afford and a dollar calculus cannot be the touchstone of compassion.

Immediate action is called for and that action should be relocating these residents as soon as practicable.”

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