Admiral orders workshop to assess hazards
By Chip Rowe
The U.S. Coast Guard put the brakes on a proposal to create 10 anchorage grounds with 43 berths along the Hudson, including five between Beacon and Newburgh, for oil barges making the trip to processing plants in Albany.
The agency had received more than 10,000 negative comments about the proposal, and both Democratic and Republican politicians had condemned it as a danger to the river and those who live near it.
In bringing the proposal to the Coast Guard, the industry argued that anchorage spots are needed between Yonkers and Kingston for safety reasons, to allow captains to pause their trips much like a long-distance trucker would pull into a rest stop. There are currently two anchorage sites, at Yonkers and Hyde Park, along the 100-mile stretch from New York City to Albany.
The American Waterways Operators, a trade group which represents the barge industry, calls the current anchorages “woefully inadequate” and said that “Coast Guard policy must not be driven by aesthetics but by safe usage of the waterways.”
To be considered as a participant in the Coast Guard workshop, which will take place in the fall, email hudsonriverPAWSA@uscg.mil by July 21 with your name, contact information, connection to the river, experience and related skills.
However, after reviewing the public comments, Rear Adm. Steven Poulin, commander of the First Coast Guard District, on June 28 suspended the process for at least a year and instead ordered a two-day workshop to assess hazards along the river that might impede barges.
U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who represents Beacon and Philipstown and introduced legislation to stop the proposal, said the admiral’s decision effectively killed it.
“I am glad the Coast Guard has come around to our way of thinking,” he said in a statement. “Our river is a national treasure that should be preserved and protected for generations — not turned into a parking lot for commercial oil ships.”