NYSNA members and President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, RN, took part in the May 14 Break Free action, which brought together 1,500 people from 100 organizations in Albany’s Lincoln Park to call for an end to the “bomb trains” used to transport gas and oil and that seriously endanger community health and safety.
The volume of oil transported by train has skyrocketed in recent decades with the boom in shale oil extraction in North Dakota. Nearly 400,000 barrels a day head to the East Coast, and the Port of Albany is a major hub for oil exports. President Gonzalez told those gathered, “Crude from Bakken shale is far more volatile and dangerous than regular crude, yet it is transported in tank cars built to hold orange juice or vegetable oil on tracks that run through residential communities. When you put a substance with the volatility of dynamite in these tankers, you create moving bombs.”
Following the rally, a group of 500 marched to an affordable housing community which sits adjacent to train tracks, highlighting the environmental racism of oil train transport. The majority of train tracks run in dangerous proximity to low-income communities of color, where residents face constant danger of derailment, explosion, and environmental disaster. A larger group of 1,000 marched to the Port of Albany to stage a blockade of the rail tracks.
Both actions were part of Break Free, a global movement that coordinated a series of 23 mass actions across the globe demanding that fossil fuels be kept in the ground. Protesters vowed to continue to work to protect the health and safety of Albany residents.