What it’s all about
The proposal comes at the request of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey, which represents various interests in the shipping and petroleum industries. The Association says that more anchorage grounds will improve navigation safety along portions of the Hudson River where there are currently few or no anchorages.
In its letter to the Coast Guard, the Association points out that barge traffic “has increased dramatically” over the past few years — due largely to the influx of fracking oil arriving by rail at the Port of Albany — and this traffic will increase “significantly over the next few years” due to the recent lifting of the ban on exporting crude oil.
Opponents of the proposal argue that the anchorages, which provide 42 long-term mooring berths (and one short-term), will turn into parking lots for barges, facilitate more commercial traffic, and “reindustrialize” the Hudson.
The barges pollute the river with their noisy generators and “stadium” lighting, and their anchors drag on the river bottom, which damages the habitats of endangered fish species. An increase in commercial traffic also puts recreational boaters in danger. Most worrisome of all is that more oil barges on the Hudson will increase the risks of a catastrophic spill.
The Coast Guard is seeking public comments and information about the operational need for new anchorage grounds, what form possible regulations should take, and the potential impacts on riverside communities. Everyone is encouraged to file comments with the Coast Guard, which has extended the deadline from Sept. 7 to Dec. 6, 2016.