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Albany residents speak out about port plans

ALBANY--A plan to expand a facility at the Port of Albany to heat, store and ship crude oil is causing panic among some residents who live nearby.  Global Companies has asked the State DEC for permission to expand its operation in Albany but with recent derailments of oil trains both here in the U.S. and in Canada, safety concerns are heightened. 

A number of residents of the Ezra Prentice Homes, a development run by the Albany Housing Authority met on Friday to discuss their concerns about the plan.  The development is about 20 feet away from train tracks that lead into and out of the Port of Albany.  The main concern among the residents is they haven't been contacted by the company or told anything at all about the safety of the plan.

Portia Gaddy lives at the Ezra Pretice Homes and her apartment butts up to the tracks, "it makes me nervous because I'm right by the tracks and when they come through it feels like the building is being taken up off the ground, I'm very concerned," she tells CBS6.   She and others who live nearby met to call upon the DEC and Global Companies to be more upfront about the plan to the people who might be most impacted by it.  "My understanding is that Global Partners has talked with the Coast Guard, they've talked with the Fire Department and the Albany Medical Center but they haven't talked with the people," Albany Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin says. 

Global Companies wants to install boilers that would heat crude and then pump the oil into storage tanks before shipping it down the Hudson River.

"I've seen the rise and fall of the Port of Albany since 1978, this is probably a once in our lifetime opportunity to increase the economic vitality and viability in this area," Jack Dority tells CBS6.  Dority owns PetroChem, a local company that Global Companies contracts with for mechanical services.  "This particular project is of interest to us because it would create up to 40-50 construction jobs over the coming year, equipment would be all built in upstate New York and it would bring millions of dollars of material purchases to local material suppliers in the area," he says.

But the people who live in the area say there are other variables that need to be considered, "we have a lot of children, a lot of elderly people, a lot of traffic back and forth," Gaddy says.  Most of the say, they wouldn't know what to do if something terrible were to happen, "I live within a 1/2 mile from here and I'm President of the Common Council, I don't know about an emergency evacuation plan," McLaughlin tells CBS6. 

The DEC is still considering the proposal.  The public comment period is open until January 31, 2014.  Global Companies did not return phone calls seeking comment about the project.
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