Environmental groups and residents of Albany, New York, have called on the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to tighten control over possible air pollution at the Port of Albany, as well as to address safety issues linked to rail shipments of crude oil.

The DEC plans to carry out air-quality tests in May, in response to concerns raised amid increasing crude oil rail shipments, but environmentalists claim that the proposed testing plan is not strict enough. They are calling for a comprehensive air quality study, supported by the DEC.

New York City-based advocacy group EarthJustice said that last year more than 1 billion gallons of crude oil from the Bakken Shale were shipped by rail to the Port of Albany. In a statement issued Monday, the group claimed that those shipments put "homes, schools and businesses" at risk and criticized plans for expansion of shipments of tar sands oil from Canada. EarthJustice explained that midstream logistics firm Global Companies, LLC, which runs one of the port's two oil terminals, has been allowed by the DEC to increase its crude oil imports to 1.8 billion gallons per year and has applied for a state air pollution permit for a facility that would heat crude oil to facilitate its pumping out of cars. This process not only pollutes air, but also poses a threat of explosions and fire, the group's statement said.