By Robert Kimmel –
The Coast Guard’s controversial proposal to establish 43 new barge anchorage locations in the Hudson River for shipping industry use, first introduced two years ago, has been pushed farther into the future, with its prospects in question.
Opposition by municipalities, environmental groups, and the public, resulted in the proposal’s suspension last year. The Coast Guard then scheduled two workshops last November, one in Albany, and the other in Poughkeepsie, during which participants, for and against, offered their views on the proposal.
Among the public’s particular concerns were the possibilities of leakage from the oil carrying barges.
The Coast Guard this week released its 77 page report on the workshops, which the it defines as its “Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment,” (PAWSA), Report. With the release, it stated, “The PAWSA workshops were held in order to provide stakeholders an opportunity to assist the Coast Guard in understanding navigation safety and environmental concerns on the Hudson River.” It called the report, “…a starting point for continuing dialogue with the Hudson River stakeholder community.”
Three immediate pursuits were described in the report, which the Coast Guard called the “most significant PAWSA workshops recommendations.” These are the creation of a Hudson River Safety Committee, (HRSC), which has already held several meetings, an increase in recreational boating safety information and actions “to clarify and remove ambiguity from current regulations,” regarding the anchorages, among other rules.
The Coast Guard added that “The HRSC will provide a forum for relevant stakeholders to address concerns identified by the PAWSA with non-regulatory action, collaboration, and coordination.” It described the three past HRSC sessions as having had “successful outcomes,” and that they were bringing diverse stakeholders together to discuss safety and environmental interests pertinent to Hudson River waterway users and communities.”
“I applaud the move by the United States Coast Guard, and look forward to Westchester residents continuing to enjoy all the scenic Hudson River has to offer,” County Executive George Latimer said, “The Hudson River should not be a parking lot for large scale barges, which bring unnecessary risks of disaster to our communities. Once the rulemaking period began, residents from all corners of the County made clear that the Hudson River was not the place for an oil barge parking lot.”
Riverkeeper’s President Paul Gallay called the PAWSA result, “a welcome next step toward resolving the very contentious proposal by the tug and barge industry for new anchorages on the Hudson. Whether or not a new anchorage proposal is ever put forward, it’s clear that any new regulations will involve public comment. We hope that the public will remain very much engaged in speaking up for the protection of the river as the process moves forward.”
“Those concerned Hudson Valley residents and river advocates should stay tuned, stay vocal, stay vigilant, and stay involved,” stated John Lipscomb, Riverkeeper Patrol Boat Captain and Vice President for Advocacy.