RIVERTOWNS, N.Y. -- Residents are being asked to voice their opinion and help save the beauty and cherished natural resources of the Hudson River from 10 new proposed anchorage locations by the United States Coast Guard.
Are you in favor of the U.S. Coast Guard's proposed plan for 10 new anchorage locations?
At a recent press conference held at the Hudson Valley Marine, State Sen. Terrence Murphy, and Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino, along with other residents, environmentalist and local leaders, voiced their opposition to the project.
"There are four main issues with this proposal: One, the lack of transparency. Two, it's a navigational hazard. Three, it's an environmental hazard waiting to happen. Four, this is a homeland security nightmare," Murphy said.
The Coast Guard recently unveiled its agenda calling for the additional anchorages on the Hudson River for commercial vessels such as industrial barges to drop anchor. Among the 10 spots are locations in Westchester including Yonkers, Montrose and Verplanck.
“Once again, it appears that the federal government wants to do what it wants, where it wants, when it wants and that’s just not okay,” said Astorino. “This plan would create a giant parking lot for massive barges and other commercial vessels just yards from our shores, and there needs to be a process to fully vet this proposal in the most transparent manner possible.”
If the Coast Guard's proposal is approved, more than 2,000 acres of the estuary will be taken over and used as anchorage grounds. Many of the riverside towns have invested millions of dollars to revitalize their waterfront areas.
"As written, by rule, these vessels will be permitted to be unlit and unmanned," Murphy said. "Do we really want unmanned oil tankers parked so close to Indian Point? In this day and age we can never be too safe. This proposed rule doesn't hold water."
In addition, the barges could pose a significant safety risk for recreational boaters. A relevant example would be the early morning March 2016 tragedy in which an 84-foot tugboat collided with a barge near the Tappan Zee Bridge, killing three people, Murphy added.
"In December, 2012, the 600-foot oil tanker Stena Primorsk, loaded with 11.7 millions of light crude oil, ran aground 10 miles south of the Port of Albany, putting a 13-foot hole in its hull. Fortunately, the vessel's inner hull was not damaged, but the accident clearly demonstrated the potential hazards associated with navigating the river while transporting crude oil," Murphy said.
John Cronin, a professor a Pace Environmental Law school, is the former Hudson Valley Riverkeeper and was business agent for the New York State Commercial Fisherman's Association, said that as a teacher, he always tells his students that at every critical juncture in the river's history, the federal government has always been the adversary.
"Let me tell you something about the almost four-square miles of parking lot for oil tankers and barges that the Coast Guard wants to create. Three-quarters of them are on traditional commercial fishing grounds," said Cronin. "The fishery may be "closed" right now, but what does that mean. It means the federal government has totally given up on the restoration of the Hudson River fishery, because (in their view) its better off being a parking lot than it is being a source of jobs, as it has been for hundreds of years for working commercial fishermen on the Hudson."
The public comment period ends on Sept. 7.