NYS DEC And Global Companies Host Oil Spill Drill In The Mid-Hudson

Nov 12, 2013

Credit WAMC/Allison Dunne

Local, state and federal officials held an oil spill exercise along the Hudson River in Orange County today, prompted by the increase in oil transport along New York’s rail lines and waterways prompted the drill.

The fictional drill involved a midnight spill of 50,000 gallons of heating oil from Global Companies’ five-million gallon storage tank in New Windsor into the Hudson River.

In the scenario, the spill derailed a CSX train.

John O’Mara is a regional spill engineer for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which co-hosted the drill. Global Companies, which is regulated by DEC, is required to hold drills at various intervals, and DEC asked them to expand the exercise to the state and federal levels. Dennis Farrar is chief of the DEC’s Emergency Response Coordination Section of the Division of Environmental Remediation.

O’Mara says it’s the first such oil spill drill of this magnitude from the DEC in some 10-to-15 years. As for why now:

Global Companies is a subsidiary of Waltham, Massachusetts-based Global Partners, one of the largest wholesale distributors of gasoline, home heating oil, diesel, kerosene, and residual oil to customers in New England and New York. It has several terminals in the Northeast, including New Windsor. The DEC’s Farrar says public awareness of the increase in petroleum transport coincides with the need for emergency response teams to be better coordinated at all levels for any such spills.

John Lipscomb is patrol boat operator for environmental group Riverkeeper. He says he was there to learn.

The Orange County Hazardous Materials Team was unable to participate in the drill.

Shannon Fisher is the team’s spokeswoman. She says the Orange County Haz-Mat team was called out Tuesday morning when a few hundred gallons of heating oil spilled during a home delivery in Greenville, near Port Jervis. Here’s what she’s says team members missed from the drill.

The U.S. Coast Guard, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, local emergency response and management teams, contractors and law enforcement agencies were among those who participated in the drill.