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NYS Comptroller

THOMAS P. DiNAPOLI

Press Releases

June 8, 2015, Contact: Press Office (518) 474-4015

DiNapoli Seeks Information on Safety Measures Taken by Businesses Involved in Shipping Oil

Releases Letters to 14 Companies Involved in Rail Transport of Petroleum

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the $183.5 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund), on Wednesday sent letters to 14 companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., Hess Corp. and CSX Corp., seeking information about measures the businesses are taking in response to the increasing number of serious accidents involving trains shipping petroleum.

“Rail lines carry petroleum crude oil through communities large and small, across important agricultural lands and other vulnerable natural resources,” DiNapoli said. “Recent rail accidents resulting in catastrophic losses from oil spills pose serious risks for the public, the environment, and the companies involved. We need to know what companies are doing to safeguard against future mishaps which can lead to serious legal liabilities for the companies. As trustee of the state pension fund, I am concerned that future liability claims may harm the interests of the retirement system’s members, retirees and beneficiaries.”

A 2013 derailment in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, resulted in 47 deaths and liability for the accident caused the rail carrier involved to enter bankruptcy. The companies that owned the oil shipped on the train were ordered to contribute to remediation efforts. Other derailments in the United States in recent years have come at significant human and financial cost.

DiNapoli’s letters ask the companies, in which the fund holds substantial interests:

  • For an assessment of whether increased rail transport of petroleum crude oil has elevated financial risk and to address liability;
  •     To describe the point in the transportation process the companies take ownership of petroleum crude oil;
  •   To articulate the provisions they have made to insure against liability for losses resulting from injuries to people, and damages to property and natural resources due to accident involving the release of crude oil;
  •   To detail their policies and actions to ensure that oil-carrying cars are constructed, maintained and inspected to prevent the release, or combustion of petroleum in a rail accident; and
  • To describe company policies to ensure that rail car safety mechanisms are in good working order.

Read DiNapoli’s letters, or go to: http://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/june15/oil_transport_letters.pdf

The Fund is the third-largest public pension fund in the country and remains one of the nation’s best-managed and best-funded pension plans. The New York State and Local Retirement System provides retirement security to more than one million active state and local government employees, retirees and their beneficiaries.

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