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Editorial: County should be told about every spill

Wednesday, July 2, 2014
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Picture those 5-gallon jugs that sit atop the typical office water cooler.

Now take 20 of them, each filled with potentially explosive fuel, and dump them all over the ground in an industrial area congested with tankers full of other explosive material.

Just then, you might begin to figure out why Albany County Executive Dan McCoy was more than a little miffed the other day that he had to find out on Twitter about a 100-gallon spill of crude oil at the Port of Albany.

McCoy was particularly angry that first responders — firefighters and emergency squads who would be tasked with fighting explosion-related fires and treating victims — were out of the loop when it came to the spill.

The county wasn't even informed so it could evaluate for itself whether the spill was actually as small as others were saying it was.

It's true, by standards of 25,000-gallon tanker cars, 100 gallons is a literal drop in the bucket.

But given the potential for disaster for a larger leak that could result in explosions or environmental damage — and given the recent history of fuel-oil spills from rail cars through the U.S. and Canada — it's hard to fault McCoy for squawking about the sky falling when it comes to these sorts of incidents.

The county executive rightfully demanded that the county be added to the phone tree for any incident, no matter how minor anyone thinks it might be.

It might have been a routine incident this time. But what about the next time?

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