Right now there is a proposal before the Coast Guard to drastically increase the number anchorages allowed for commercial vessels on the Hudson River. The proposal would add ten new anchorage grounds from Yonkers to Kingston, with a combined 43 berths that would occupy over 2,400 acres of Hudson River. Alarmingly, this expansion will not fill any great transportation need, but provide a long term storage option for crude oil in barges and tankers that could endanger the Hudson’s fragile ecosystem.
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Dear Mr. Lapiejko:
I am writing in opposition to the proposal that would vastly expand anchorages along the Hudson River to accommodate more crude oil barges. The current plan to establish 43 new berths between Kingston and Yonkers has the potential to both endanger the river’s fragile estuarine ecology and despoil the rich cultural heritage of our riverfront communities.
At the core of this proposal is the need to store significant amounts of crude oil in floating barges. Additional anchorages are not required to meet other maritime transportation needs. Using the Hudson River as a “parking area” to accommodate the current national oversupply of crude oil is a misappropriation of public resources, especially when it has the potential to cause irreparable harm to critical ecosystems.
The Hudson River is home to hundreds of species of fish and the estuary provides a critical nursery ground to some key Atlantic species including the American Shad and the endangered Atlantic and short nosed sturgeon. A single oil spill could decimate their populations and an increase in tug propellers, anchor chains and barge discharges will only erode the overall health of the habitats that sustain them.
Expansion of anchorages for oil barges also endangers Hudson River communities. The increase in diesel emissions will despoil air quality, oil spills could compromise drinking water resources and barge lighting on a typically dark river will cause significant light pollution. The Hudson is a nationally recognized heritage river and there has been significant investment in local waterfronts, which fuels a multi-billion dollar tourism industry. The gorgeous view sheds and quality of life for dozens of riverfront communities should not have to be sacrificed to accommodate unnecessary and unsafe oil storage schemes.
The Coast Guard should deny this expanded anchorage proposal. But if the Coast Guard cannot make that determination, then it must at least undergo a comprehensive environmental review, including a full environmental impact statement.
More information on this issue:
- Proposal for Massive New Barge Anchorages Threatens Hudson River
- Sustainable Saturday Answers Your Hudson Anchorage Questions