A number of candidates for local office say the location of Mohawk Valley Health System's downtown hospital is in a potentially dangerous area.

Utica Common Council candidates Jim Zecca, Lou Poccia and Frederick Nichols and County legislature candidate Frank Gentile held a news conference today near the railroad tracks at Union Station.

They say a high-risk "Red Zone" has been declared along both sides of the tracks to prepare emergency response for spills, fires, toxic fumes or train derailments.

Poccia says the proposed hospital site is located in the "Red Zone."  He says you couldn't find a worse place to put a hospital and it should be located somewhere else.

Poccia says up to 30 freight trains carrying hazardous and flammable materials run through Utica every week and many have 100 cars stretching miles down the track.

Mohawk Valley Health System Executive Vice President and COO Robert Scholefield issued the following statement about the alleged train track "Red Zone" and its proximity to the new downtown hospital's campus:

“The concern about the location of the new Mohawk Valley Health System hospital in proximity to the train tracks in the City of Utica was raised at the Community Forums we held in January 2017. We vetted this concern with the engineers working on the project and the City of Utica’s and Oneida County’s Planning Departments. It was found that the train tracks posed no threat to the hospital in the location that was selected in downtown Utica.”