What Are Your Rights: Concerns Over Contamination From Train Derailment

Recorded on February 21, 2024

Following up on a recent train derailment in Valley Falls where two train cars went into the Hoosic River with plastic pellets that they were carrying. Officials say that there were no injuries, no homes damaged, no hazards or risks to neighbors. But if neighbors are concerned, what steps can they take? Managing partner Paul Harding of Harding Mazzotti is on CBS6 to explain.

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Speaker 1: The following segment is sponsored by Harding Mazzotti.

Interviewer: We’re continuing to follow up on the train derailment in Valley Falls from a few weeks ago. So two cars went into the Hoosic River with pellets, plastic pellets that they were carrying. Officials say that there were no injuries, no homes damaged, no hazards or risks to neighbors. But if neighbors are concerned, what steps can they take? So we’ve got managing partner Paul Harding from Harding, Mazzotti here. So are there any risks at this point that we’re aware of?

Paul: First of all, it must have been an awesome, scary scene, you know, these things tumbling into the river. But they said no. They said it’s not hazardous material. There’s no gasses, and these cars that were in the water have been protected. There’s no oil leaks. So at this point, they’re saying no. It was an ugly event that got cleaned up. But now the conversation’s on these pellets, which are not gonna naturally go away, and with ecosystems being as gentle as they are, one little change could cause something, I guess that’s probably the biggest concern right now.

Interviewer: Yeah, and I haven’t heard anything specifically from neighbors in that area, but if some of them are wondering what is their concern or what is the issue that this could have, impact this could have on the wildlife there, what can they do?

Paul: Yeah, and they’re probably still, you know, maybe not 100% believing that potentially there could be other issues that they need to pay attention to too. But yeah, they’re there, they’ve been told it’s okay. It’s going to depend on whose fault this turns out to be, you know, because somebody, something went wrong, right? Whether it’s a track issue, whether it’s a train issue, a loading issue, they’re going to get to the bottom of this. That investigation would be a federal investigation. So depending on who’s at fault, whether or not they’ll be able to clean up these pellets. You know, I think they need to continue just to stay aware of what’s around them, because let’s face it, at some point something was on a track, resulted in a terrible collision, and now they’re still living there.

Interviewer: And what steps could they take if they’re concerned?

Paul: Well, NCON, New York State Environmental Conservation, they’re going to continue to monitor this. And I think what you do is you contact them and say, hey, I’m in the proximity. Can you keep me in the loop? I kind of want to know what’s going on. You need anything from me? I’ll share it with you. But I think you do that. And then you just sort of pay attention and maybe be an advocate for these newfound neighbors you may not have known, but people in your area. Maybe you guys all kind of get together and say, we need to hear more about what these pellets are and maybe reaffirming that there was nothing that could affect us that went into that river.

Interviewer: Yeah, and my guess is an investigation like this federal, it could take like a year.

Paul: it could to get the final report. I’ll bet you’re somewhere between six to eight months. But for them to act on this monthly, they could get out there pretty quick, especially if there’s a little more impetus to do so.

Interviewer: Okay, all right. Perfect. Thank you so much.

Paul: Absolutely.

Interviewer: Well for more info covered in our weekly “What Are Your Rights” segments or to send us a story I did just head to our website CBS6albany.com.

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