Times Union: The U.S. Coast Guard will hold two days of closed-door discussions in Albany this week on a vision for the future of the Hudson River.
Last week, the agency held two days of meetings in Poughkeepsie as part of the work on a Ports and Waterways Assessment, which is meant to examine potential solutions to transportation risks on the river.
The planning started after the Coast Guard earlier this year shelved a request by river shippers to approve 43 new anchorages for use by crude oil barges. This drew opposition from New York state officials, as well as local government leaders and environmental groups.
Last week, Rear Admiral Steven Poulin call the assessment a “process that allows us to take a really close look at risks – navigational and environmental risks – associated with a particular waterway and it helps us inform and give us a better understanding of what those risks are and how we may mitigate those risks,” according to a report by the Mid-Hudson News Network.
The sessions were invitation-only from the Coast Guard, and are not open to the general public or the media, said Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy.
Groups taking part in the workshops include the Hudson River Pilots, Hudson River Waterfront Allliance, Sierra Club, Tug and Barge Committee of New York/New Jersey, state Department of Environmental Conservation, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, McAllister Towing, Pace University, and Samalot Marine. Read more.
midhudsonnews.com: The Coast Guard’s Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) workshop began its two-day session in Poughkeepsie on Tuesday.
The process was borne out of the earlier consideration of approving 43 new barge anchorages on the river between Yonkers and Kingston, but it will go beyond that, said Rear Admiral Steven Poulin.
“It is a process that allows us to take a really close look at risks – navigational and environmental risks – associated with a particular waterway and it helps us inform and give us a better understanding of what those risks are and how we may mitigate those risks,” he said.
Following a news conference, the media allowed to stay for the workshop’s opening remarks prior to the remainder of the sessions, which were held behind closed door with over 40 participating stakeholders and a dozen municipal leader and resident observers.
One of the stakeholders, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan, questioned the makeup of the workshop participants implying that 60 percent of the stakeholders are from the marine commerce industry that would benefit from additional anchorages. In response, Poulin said that “nobody’s views would be discounted” and the reason for the unusually large group of participants is so that the Coast Guard can be made aware of all factors that could affect the safety of vessels and the river as a whole.
Other stakeholders in Poughkeepsie include Riverkeeper, Pace University, Hudson River Pilots, Hudson River Waterfront Alliance, and Tug and Pilots Council of New York and New Jersey. Read more.
Kingston Daily Freeman: The U.S. Coast Guard on Tuesday began a four-day series of workshops that it says is intended to bring 21st-century rules to the Hudson River.
The Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment, or PAWSA, process is being carried out by 41 participants representing nearly three dozen governmental, commercial, municipal and environmental groups.
Included are six recreation groups, six shipping industry groups, four environmental watchdog organizations, five municipal organizations, two universities, three state agencies and three federal agencies.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. Steven Poulin stressed that the process “is not simply about anchorages,” a reference to a controversial proposal to let large vessels, such as barges and oil tankers, drop anchor at 10 locations on the river between Kingston and Yonkers.
“Yes, that will be one part of it, but this PAWSA is an opportunity for us to talk more comprehensively about all the associated risks” of Hudson River uses, Poulin said at a Tuesday morning press conference in Poughkeepsie.
Poulin said use of the river has grown to include a wide variety of recreational activities.
“The Hudson River is a national treasure and because people love to get on it, recreate and use it … but with that comes greater congestion,” he said.
“This isn’t just about tank barges on the Hudson River,” Poulin said. “This is our attempt to try to get a better understanding of all the risks associated with waterways uses. … What are the risks to passenger vessels from more congestion? What are the risks to passenger vessels and recreational vessels from Jet Skis, kayakers, paddle boarders?” Read more.
Kingston Daily Freeman: U.S. Coast Guard officials will meet Tuesday and Wednesday with about 45 representatives from environmental groups, municipalities and the shipping industry to begin determining what factors should be considered for siting large-vessel anchorage grounds on the Hudson River.
The meetings will be at the Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel in Poughkeepsie and will be open only to invitees.
Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy said the meetings will focus on technical information that should go into a Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment process and therefore are limited to stakeholders who have significant nautical and environmental knowledge.
Next week’s meetings are being held in the wake of Coast Guard deciding in June to suspend its review of a proposal for 10 new anchorage grounds on the river between Kingston and Yonkers. The Guard said at the time that the Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment would be a “disciplined approach to identify major waterway safety hazards, estimate risk levels, evaluate potential mitigation measures and set the stage for implementation of selected measures to reduce risk.”
Conroy said representatives from eight municipalities will attend the meetings as observers.
Town of Rhinebeck Supervisor Elizabeth Spinzia said one individual will represent Mid-Hudson municipalities that draw water from the river. Among those communities are the towns of Esopus, Lloyd and Hyde Park and the city of Poughkeepsie.
Spinzia said rules governing anchorage grounds on the Hudson River must go beyond the highly technical issues of fish migration and impacts on navigation; that how nautical activity affects life on land also must be considered
“There’s the viewshed, there’s visual pollution, there’s light pollution, there’s noise pollution,” she said. “There’s limitless damage that can be caused by this.”
John Lipscomb, a boat captain for the environmental protection group Riverkeeper, lauded the Coast Guard for bringing a wide range of experts into the rule-making process.
“This is a very rigid, structured conversation, and things that are going to be considered are things like vessel conditions, traffic conditions, navigational conditions, waterway conditions, immediate consequences of an accident, and subsequent consequences of an accident,” he said. Read more.
Scenic Hudson: Many of you were among the 10,000 citizen advocates who told the U.S. Coast Guard to drop its proposal to create 10 new anchorage sites for 43 huge barges carrying crude oil and other poisonous chemicals. This voice of the people has helped create some important victories—but we still have work to do to protect our river, wildlife, natural resources, community assets and local economies.
Progress that demands follow-up actions
The Coast Guard in June temporarily suspended its process to establish the anchorages so it can study measures to make the Hudson safe for industrial barge transportation and whether there is a need for new anchorages. We’ll stand up for your interests during this review and will alert you if there’s action you can take to help the cause.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state legislators—led by Sen. Sue Serino and Assemblymember Didi Barrett—recently passed a law that calls on the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create regulations that would safeguard the Hudson River and communities from industrial barges carrying petroleum products. Scenic Hudson will be urging the DEC to create strong measures that would prevent new anchorages in locations that could threaten the beauty and outdoor treasures that make the Hudson Valley a great place to live, work and play. Read more.
Mayor Michael Spano of Yonkers is asking the US Coast Guard to reconsider its selection of local municipal stakeholders at its upcoming Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment workshops this month.
The process is an opportunity for stakeholders, including municipalities in the Hudson River Watershed Alliance, to evaluate safety hazards, potential mitigation measures and their impacts concerning the proposal to add 43 new barge anchorages on the river from Yonkers to Kingston.
Of the 45 participants selected for the workshops, only three municipalities were selected – Hastings-on-Hudson, Tarrytown and Croton-on-Hudson.
“Excluding representatives of local riverfront communities as well as maritime experts, and prohibiting access to the list of invited participates to the PAWSA workshops, undermines the entire PAWSA process and puts into question the motive and integrity of the USCG in conducting a comprehensive, balanced and transparent assessment of risks on the Hudson,” said Spano. “The people of our communities deserve direct local representation in any public process such as this in which the outcome could impact their local natural resources and quality of life.”
The Hudson River Watershed Alliance includes communities along the river from Yonkers to Kingston. Read more.
Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial: After too many fits and starts, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other state lawmakers have momentum on their side in protecting the Hudson River from great harm. It’s essential they stay on top of the push for a cleaner river. The governor took a brisk step recently by signing legislation aimed at beating back attempts to designate as many as 10 commercial shipping anchorages on the river.
If not challenged, this idea could clutter the river with huge vessels carrying volatile materials, such as crude oil, and dropping anchor near vulnerable riverside communities. There is no way government regulators should allow such risks of damaging spills — and the possibility that municipal water sources could get contaminated.
The federal agency had been considering an industry-backed scheme to designate these anchorages, including places in Kingston, Milton, Newburgh and Port Ewen. Currently, only one seasonal anchorage ground exists on the Hudson River from Yonkers to Kingston,
While the U.S. Coast Guard has backed off this industry-sought plan, it is nevertheless conducting a safety assessment of the river. It has not ruled out proposing new anchorages. This is a critically important point. This fight is not nearly over. Vigilance is required. And the state has empowered itself by setting conditions and rules under which such vessels may enter and use the river. Read more.
Kingston Daily Freeman: Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday singed legislation that requires state-level study of any plans for large-vessel anchorage grounds on the Hudson River.
Environmental advocates cheered the action, which came about four months after the U.S. Coast Guard shelved, but didn’t outright kill, its controversial plan to create 10 anchorage grounds for oil tankers and other large vessels on the river between Kingston and Yonkers.
The bill Cuomo signed Tuesday was approved by the state Legislature in July (93-2 in the Assembly and 61-1 in the Senate). It amends an existing law that lets the state Department of Environmental Conservation work with the Department of State and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to set “conditions for petroleum-bearing vessels to enter or move upon navigable waters of the state, as well as ‘tanker avoidance zones’” on the lower Hudson River.
“Governor Cuomo has taken bold and decisive action by signing into law legislation that protects the Hudson River from barges and tanker ships that carry dangerous petroleum-based products and other hazardous materials,” Ned Hudson, president of the environmental group Scenic Hudson, said Tuesday in a statement emailed to the media. Read more.
WAMC: A new law allows New York state to create guidelines that will restrict where oil tankers can anchor on the Hudson River.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation that lets the state establish guidelines for “tanker avoidance zones.” The Democrat says the new law protects the river’s ecosystem as well as residents who live along the Hudson’s banks.
The legislation was introduced after the U.S. Coast Guard proposed to allow petroleum-bearing vessels traveling between Albany and New York City to anchor at 10 locations. Shipping industry officials sought the new anchorage sites for vessels required to wait for weather improvement, icebreaking or other voyage factors.
The proposal prompted opposition from thousands of Hudson Valley residents who feared the plan would pose safety problems as well as threaten the environment and spoil scenic river views. Listen here.
Assemblymember Didi Barrett’s (D – Columbia, Dutchess) legislation asserting the state’s authority over the Hudson River by expanding the criteria used to establish “tanker avoidance zones” beyond existing navigational standards was signed into law today by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. As a result of the legislation, which was sponsored by Senator Sue Serino (R – Hyde Park) in the State Senate, the prospect of a massive expansion of crude oil shipments along the Hudson River will be greatly diminished, thereby safeguarding riverfront communities, drinking water supplies, and significant wildlife habitats. Today’s announcement is a milestone for the future health of the Hudson River and a victory for all those who opposed the U.S. Coast Guard’s proposal to allow large increases in petroleum vessel traffic along a 91-mile stretch between Kingston, Ulster County and Yonkers, Westchester County.
“With this law now in place, the state is in a much stronger position to keep future anchorages from being sited anywhere along the Hudson River. An increase in petroleum tankers would pose a direct threat to coastal fish and wildlife, local drinking water, the safety of waterfront communities, and economic development in our beautiful region,” said Assemblymember Barrett. “This is truly a victory for everyone who voiced their opposition to the Coast Guard’s ill-advised proposal. I thank Scenic Hudson for its partnership and commend the Governor for signing this significant measure to further protect the Hudson River.”
While the U.S. Coast Guard has since announced the suspension of its controversial anchorage proposal, New York State’s role in keeping appropriate safeguards in place to protect the Hudson River has never been more important. Known as America’s River, the Hudson is both an iconic piece of New York State’s rich history and a vital economic, recreational, natural and cultural resource for millions of people who live, work and enjoy it today; these are the most compelling reasons to keep it protected. Widespread opposition to the Coast Guard’s proposal from residents, environmental groups and waterfront municipalities resulted in the adoption of over 40 resolutions and endorsements of A.6825A/S.5197B by impacted communities.
“This is a major victory for our local communities, our local environment and the Hudson River,” said Senator Sue Serino. “We asked residents to step up and make their voices heard on this important issue and the community responded in full force, ensuring that the state will have the power to better protect one of our area’s greatest natural resources. I thank the Governor for recognizing the importance of protecting the significant investments our communities have made by signing this important legislation and I am grateful for all of those – especially Scenic Hudson – who took the time to help us tackle this issue head on.”
“Governor Cuomo has taken bold and decisive action by signing into law legislation that protects the Hudson River from barges and tanker ships that carry dangerous petroleum-based products and other hazardous material,” said Ned Sullivan, President, Scenic Hudson. “This legislation was borne from a tidal wave of civic engagement along the river. Assemblywoman Didi Barrett and Senator Sue Serino responded to public concern in working with fellow legislators to pass this bill with near unanimous bipartisan support in both houses. Now, we call on the Department of Environmental Conservation to do its part by issuing regulations to protect the Hudson River and the natural and community resources of the region.”
Since the federal ban on exports of domestic crude oil was lifted by Congress in December 2015, New York has had an increased responsibility to assert its concurrent jurisdiction over the navigable waterways of the state. The anchorages law does just that. The Coast Guard’s plan, while suspended, is not gone; the Coast Guard has announced it will conduct a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) on the Hudson River to identify and evaluate the risks of the proposal and allow waterway stakeholders an opportunity to be part of that process. Additional information about a PAWSA and the entire process can be found at the Coast Guard Navigation Center website: https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/
Food & Water Watch: Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law groundbreaking legislation to protect the Hudson River from barges carrying fracked oil.
The bill was introduced in response to a proposal by the tug and barge industry to add 43 additional anchorages for oil barges on the river, stretching from Yonkers to Kingston.
“Governor Cuomo has taken another bold move to place the interests of New Yorkers over those of the fossil fuel industry,” said Eric Weltman, a Brooklyn-based Senior Organizer with Food & Water Watch. “Governor Cuomo has, once again, prioritized New York’s health and the environment over the profits of the fracking industry, and we’re thankful for his leadership.”
A network of environmental organizations, including Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper, Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club Lower Hudson, the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Audubon Society, and the New York League of Conservation Voters, spoke out against the proposal.
Citing environmental and community concerns, the groups spearheaded a campaign urging the New York State Legislature to pass bills A.6825A and S.5197B. The legislation expands New York State’s jurisdiction over the siting of oil barges on the Hudson River by enabling the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create “Tanker Avoidance Zones” based on the presence of significant habitats and the concerns of waterfront communities.
The groups fear that the additional oil barge traffic would reverse decades of Hudson clean-up, and squander millions of dollars already spent revitalizing the waterfront. More oil barges on the river increases the risk for hazardous oil spills, threatens New Yorkers’ drinking water, and could damage the habitat of the endangered sturgeon and other species. Barges also produce significant noise and light pollution due to generators and stadium-like lighting on deck, disturbing communities along the waterfront.
Municipalities up and down the Hudson passed resolutions in opposition to the proposal. And the coalition galvanized community members across the state to submit thousands of petitions and make hundreds of phone calls to the New York State Legislature in support of protecting the Hudson from fracked oil, which resulted in the legislature’s decision, at the eleventh hour of the session, to pass this important bill.
Other news reports:
Poughkeepsie Journal: Hudson River protection law restricts oil tankers
Albany Times Union: State pushes back on Hudson oil barges
Yonkers Daily Voice: Bill Protecting Hudson Valley Waterfronts From Barges Signed By Cuomo
Please add your name to a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo, urging him to sign into law legislation to help protect the Hudson River from oil barges.
The deadline for signing on is this Thursday, October 19 at 6:00 pm.
This summer, the legislature passed a bill that would give the Department of Environmental Conservation the authority to establish “tanker avoidance zones” in the Hudson River.
This was in response to a proposal to turn the river into a virtual parking lot for fracked oil by creating 10 new locations for barges carrying petroleum.
This sign-on letter is open to any non-profit organization, faith institution, business, political club, civic group, labor union, or student organization. Read more.
As part of its Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) concerning the proposal to create new anchorages on the Hudson River, Coast Guard experts will host two informational webinars.
DATE: Wednesday, October 18, 2017
TIME: Two sessions – 10am or 7pm ET
MEETING LINK: PAWSA Public Information Webinar
(NO REGISTRATION REQUIRED)
Online webinar accessible via PC/MAC browser (with speakers) or mobile device (via the Adobe Connect app). Visit the Adobe Connect website prior to the session to test your system’s connectivity and verify meeting accessibility.
The risk assessment process is a disciplined approach to identify major waterway safety hazards, estimate risk levels, evaluate potential mitigation measures, and set the stage for implementation of selected measures to reduce risk. The process involves convening a select group of waterway users / stakeholders and conducting a two-day structured workshop to meet these objectives. A sponsor (e.g., Captain of the Port) is required to initiate and manage the workshop. However, the process must be a joint effort involving waterway users, stakeholders, and the agencies / entities responsible for implementing selected risk mitigation measures.
The risk assessment process represents a significant part of joint public-private sector planning for mitigating risk in waterways. When applied consistently and uniformly in a number of waterways, the process is expected to provide a basis for making best value decisions for risk mitigation investments, both on the local and national level.
For more information on the PAWSA program, please use the “Contact Us” form and select “Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) from the pull down menu.
Scenic Hudson: In June the state Senate and Assembly passed legislation that authorizes the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to take steps to protect the most sensitive and important areas of the Hudson River and communities along its banks. This bill is a critical element of our strategy to stop dangerous and unsightly new anchorages on the Hudson River. The bill has been delivered by the legislature to Governor Cuomo. Now we need you to contact the Governor today and ask him to sign S.5197b/A.6825a into law.
Visit the Governor’s website to complete a comment form. A sample message for you is below. Personalized messages are best, but be sure to say you want him to sign S.5197b/A.6825a into law. Read more.
U.S. Coast Guard Press Release: The U.S. Coast Guard identified locations and dates for the Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA) Workshops.
Dates in November have been identified for two groups of waterway users and stakeholders to participate in two-day structured workshops to ensure the PAWSA process is a joint effort involving waterway users, stakeholders, and agencies to identify ways to improve the safety of the Hudson River. The Coast Guard has completed 52 PAWSA studies nationwide since the program’s inception in 1999.
On November 7-8, a workshop will be held in the Mid-Hudson region.
On November 15-16, a workshop will be held in Albany, New York.
The Coast Guard is selecting participants based on their waterway expertise and to create a broad cross-section of Hudson River stakeholders. The District Commander’s goal is to build a diverse team that helps ensure everyone’s concerns are represented through the PAWSA risk analysis process. The discussions will help promote navigation safety and environmental protection.
Members of the public desiring to be considered for participation in the workshops are invited to provide their name, contact information, connection to the waterway, experience, and related skills to HudsonRiverPAWSA@uscg.mil by Sept. 15. Formal invitations to selectees will follow.
Coast Guard experts will host two informational PAWSA webinars on Oct. 18, at 10 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. For webinar access, participants and interested community members should go to https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=pawsaMain.
WorkBoat: Under fire from New York state and local officials, the Coast Guard announced it will hold Hudson River Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment Workshops in November as part of its review of proposed barge anchorages along the river.
The Coast Guard calls its process by the acronym PAWSA, and says it has conducted 52 studies nationwide since 1999. It is a two-day structured workshop that brings together waterway users, stakeholders and government agencies to look for ways of improving safety.
At the request of the maritime industry, the Coast Guard initiated work toward establishing up to 10 designated barge anchorages on the Hudson River, a plan advocates said was needed for emergency movements – such as moving barges upriver in the event of another major storm heading to New York Harbor – and to handle anticipated traffic on the river.
That triggered a strong pushback from environmental groups, river towns, state legislators and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, which declared the proposal “unacceptable.” The Coast Guard paused, announcing in June it would initiate a new safety study.
The timeline announced Friday calls for a Nov. 7-8, a workshop will be held in the mid-Hudson region, and another Nov. 15-16 in the state capitol Albany, with locations and details yet to be determined.
“The Coast Guard is selecting participants based on their waterway expertise and to create a broad cross-section of Hudson River stakeholders. The District Commander’s goal is to build a diverse team that helps ensure everyone’s concerns are represented through the PAWSA risk analysis process. The discussions will help promote navigation safety and environmental protection,” the Coast Guard First District said in its announcement.
Members of the public who want to be considered for participation in the workshops are invited to provide their name, contact information, connection to the waterway, experience, and related skills to HudsonRiverPAWSA@uscg.mil by Sept. 15. The Coast Guard will follow up with sending formal invitations to those it selects.
The Coast Guard will also have its own experts will host two public, online informational PAWSA webinars on Oct. 18, at 10 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. For webinar access, participants and interested community members should log on to https://www.navcen.uscg.gov/?pageName=pawsaMain.
Hudson Valley One: Jon Bowermaster isn’t into being famous, particularly. After a couple of decades as a world adventurer, author and filmmaker who documented Antarctica and other far-flung parts of our ocean planet on National Geographic expeditions, the Stone Ridge resident told Ulster Publishing that he had had decided that he “didn’t want to be ‘that kayak guy’ anymore.” He simply wants to save the world’s waterways – and these days, mostly the ones closest to home.
Nor does Bowermaster baldly exploit his status as rock star Natalie Merchant’s Significant Other, or his friendship with actor Mark Ruffalo that developed on the anti-fracking public speaking circuit (though the celebrity appearances in his films Dear Governor Cuomo and Dear President Obama certainly must have helped him get them widely screened). He keeps a low personal profile and helps his more visible friends and family protect their privacy. But when it comes to corporate and political threats to the natural environment, Jon Bowermaster gets fiercely motivated.
“I’ve spent years making films about the relationship between man and water around the world, but I always wanted to do something about the Hudson River,” he told us in 2016, as his production company, Oceans 8 Films, was marketing a new video-magazine-format series titled The Hudson: A River at Risk. Viewable online at www.hudsonriverstories.com, these mini-documentaries examine such incendiary issues as the incomplete cleanup of PCBs from the Hudson riverbed, “bomb trains” carrying Bakken crude oil across New York State, the proposed Pilgrim Pipelines, leaks and lax security at the Indian Point nuclear plant, the Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project and proposals to anchor gigantic barges indefinitely in Hudson River port towns and to build huge high-voltage transmission lines through the Hudson Valley. Read more.
Hudson Valley News Network: After working to kill the Coast Guard’s initial proposal to install ten new anchorage sites on the Hudson River, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) announced that his amendment to defund future attempts to establish these sites passed with unanimous support in the House of Representatives.
The amendment, attached to a bill which funds the Coast Guard, would prohibit the agency from establishing any anchorages along the Hudson River between Yonkers and Kingston.
“Just in case anyone gets any bright ideas, this is one more way to make sure that stupid proposal stays dead and buried,” said Rep. Maloney. “I’m not letting my guard down on this, and even after the PAWSA process, this will make sure that our river is safe and doesn’t become a parking lot for oil barges.”
“This action barring expenditure for new Anchorages will help safeguard the Hudson from potentially devastating risks to the environment and economy of the region,” said Ned Sullivan, President of Scenic Hudson. “Scenic Hudson is grateful for Congressman Maloney’s tireless and effective leadership on this key issue.” Read more.
WorkBoat: Extreme Hudson River fog and a powerful current contributed to the April 4 grounding of a barge carrying 60,000 bbls. of gasoline at Catskill, N.Y., according to a report from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation police.
The 458’x72’ double-hull barge RTC 150, pushed by the 119’x40’x22’, 7,200-hp tugboat Meredith C. Reinauer operated by the Reinauer Transportation Companies, were hauling the fuel upriver to Albany, N.Y., when the articulated tug-barge got into trouble and hung up on a stone channel marker just south of the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.
That was a good outcome for the New York maritime industry, as the grounding occured amid debate over proposed new anchorage areas on the Hudson River, an industry supported proposal vigorously opposed by environmental groups and river towns. The Coast Guard has paused its consideration of that plan, while it conducts a study to assess safety risks and other issues.
Capt. Steven Hardy, 64, told DEC police he was heading north on the river, pushing against the current in almost zero visibility and relying on electronic navigation. At around 8:15 a.m., the GPS indicated the ATB was on the easternmost side of the channel, and Hardy attempted to steer west and back to the channel center, according to the DEC report.
As he attempted to correct course, the oncoming river current, spurred by outgoing tide, “began to push the tug and barge sideways resulting in an overcorrection of course,” the report says. Read more.
MidHudsonNews.com: Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney (D, NY-18), who was a driving force in killing the proposal to allow additional commercial anchorages on the Hudson River between Yonkers and Newburgh, joined the East Coast region Coast Guard leader on the river on Wednesday.
Maloney spoke with Rear Admiral Steven Poulin about the former proposal and the Coast Guard’s plan to take another approach with a Public Access Waterway Safety Assessment.
“Basically we are going back to the drawing board on this thing and they are going to look at safety on the river and all of us care about that and I care about the important work the Coast Guard does and I wanted the rear admiral to know that I would love to be his partner on this as long as we can get it right for the Hudson Valley,” Maloney said. Read more.
Poughkeepsie Journal Editorial Board: Protectors of the Hudson River – and that should be all of us – caught a big break recently when the U.S. Coast Guard pronounced it was backing off a potentially disastrous plan to designate as many as 10 commercial shipping anchorages on the river.
The federal agency had been considering an industry-backed scheme to designate these anchorages, including places in Kingston, Milton, Newburgh and Port Ewen. If implemented, this idea could clutter the river with huge vessels carrying volatile materials, such as crude oil, and dropping anchor near vulnerable riverside communities. The risks of spills and the possibility of contaminating municipal water sources would be far too great to allow that.
The Coast Guard instead says it will conduct a safety assessment of the river. But it also has not ruled out proposing new anchorages; it merely has suspended this decision until the review is done, something opponents must keep in mind. And it’s all the more reason why the State of New York, which also is responsible for the river’s health, should move decisively now. The state Legislature has acted responsibly, approving a bill to strengthen New York’s standing to halt anchorages from being allowed in inappropriate spots, but this prudent measure has not become law yet. Read more.
Hudson Valley 360: The state Department of Environmental Conservation has released an “After Action” report following an incident from April where a Reinauer Transportation LLC barge carrying over two million gallons of gasoline ran aground on the Hudson River near Dutchmen’s Landing in Catskill.
The report determined there were no violations of Environmental Conservation Law, but treacherous weather conditions along with pilot error are being considered as potential contributing factors to the barge running aground at around 8:35 a.m. April 4.
The barge was being hauled by the tugboat “Meredith” to the Port of Albany. The on-duty crew members named in the report are Capt. Steven Hardy, Dan Murray, Tyler Cooper and Ed Nadeau. Off-duty crew members Gerald Scott, Tony Gobin and Drew Aversano were also on board.
Hardy was interviewed at around 12:30 p.m. April 4, more than four hours after the incident, by DEC Environmental Conservation Investigators Aaron Markey and Matthew Nichols and Environmental Programs Specialist David Picket aboard the tugboat. The men were the first and only outside official personnel to communicate with the captain April 4. U.S. Coast Guard officials interviewed Hardy and his crew the next day, according to the report.
Most of the communication with Reinauer personnel took place on the day of the incident, DEC Executive Deputy Commissioner Kenneth Lynch said Tuesday.
“That’s when you get the most accurate information,” Lynch said. “I believe there was some followup with the company.”
Hardy told investigators he was operating the tugboat heading against the current north along the east side of the Hudson River, navigating in close to zero visibility because of fog and relying on electronic navigation equipment, according to the report.
At around 8:15 a.m. Hardy attempted to navigate to the west and back to the center of the channel, but heavy incoming tidal current began pushing the tug and barge sideways resulting in an overcorrection of course. Hardy tried to turn back north, but the barge ended up colliding with rocks adjacent to the channel marker, north of the Catskill Creek outlet.
Fog rolled in quickly and was considered the root cause of the accident, Reinauer spokesman Gary Gould said Tuesday.
“It was an unfortunate incident that came out with good results and something to hold onto and learn as we go forward,” Gould said. “Overall we were very happy with the results.” Read more.
Spectrum News: State lawmakers say New York can permanently keep oil barges from anchoring in the Hudson River — if the Coast Guard decides to revisit the issue. The legislature passed a bill this year that would change state navigation laws and allow more flexibility to limit potential anchorage sites. And now, local officials and environmental groups want to be sure the governor will sign the bill. Assemblywoman Didi Barrett discusses the issue. Read more.
Poughkeepsie Journal: While the U.S. Coast Guard recently suspended its anchorage proposal, the possibility of another effort to fill the Hudson River with anchored vessels could be on the horizon.
But legislation aimed at safeguarding the Hudson River could bolster the state’s jurisdiction over the river, protecting the area against the transportation of crude oil and other hazardous materials should the federal agency reconsider its plan, according to Sen. Sue Serino, R-Hyde Park.
Serino was joined by Assemblymember Didi Barrett, D-Hudson, local government officials, members of Scenic Hudson, and other environmental and community groups at Quiet Cove Park Monday to discuss the urgency of enacting this bill, which would put the state in a stronger position to prevent anchored vessels from posing a threat to drinking water, the environment, and local economics should the Coast Guard’s proposal, or others, surface.
“As a representative of several communities that get their drinking water from the Hudson River, I cannot overstate the importance of this bill. The anchorage proposal could have had a negative impact on everything – from environmental health, to public safety and economic development,” Serino said. Read more.
LoHud.com: In a stunning about-face on June 28, the U.S. Coast Guard announced it will “suspend future rulemaking decisions” regarding 10 anchorages, with spaces for 43 oil barges, on the Hudson River, while it conducts a Port and Waterways Safety Assessment, a study of river navigation issues. But that study and much more are required to ensure protection of the Hudson Valley, as the Environmental Policy Clinic of Pace University’s Dyson College warned Coast Guard Commandant Paul F. Zukunft more than seven months ago.
In December, Pace Clinic students wrote Adm. Zukunft requesting he withdraw the proposed anchorage plan because his agency had not complied with its procedural manual, Waterways Management: Anchorage Management Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures, which requires a safety assessment.
Had the Coast Guard conducted the safety assessment in the first place, it could have saved the public considerable time, expense and worry. The tug and barge industry’s allegation that special anchorages would address an unproven surge in safety problems was suspect at best. More likely, the anchorages were intended as 43 parking spaces for Bakken oil. But the Coast Guard published the industry claim as its own in the Federal Register, refused public and media requests for more information, and declined repeated invitations to participate in public meetings. Read more.
MidHudsonNews.com: State Senator Susan Serino (R, Hyde Park) and Assemblywoman Didi Barrett (D, City of Hudson) gathered local officials and community advocates in Poughkeepsie on Monday to urge Governor Cuomo to sign into law legislation that was passed that would prohibit barges from anchoring on the river in the Hudson Valley.
The original proposal by the US Coast Guard would allow for 10 new anchorage sites between Kingston and Yonkers. A total of 43 barges would be allowed to drop anchor and 42 of them would be allowed to stay for 30 days. The plan was met with fierce opposition from Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, and upwards of 10,000 comments from the public directed to the Coast Guard in opposition.
Serino and Barrett pushed legislation through their respective houses prohibiting the anchorage sites. The bill now awaits the governor’s signature. Read more.
Daily Freeman: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has given no indication whether he will sign a bill that would grant the state the power to closely scrutinize Hudson River anchorage proposals.
The bill has passed both houses of the state Legislature and is awaiting action by the governor.
Ten new anchorage sites for commercial ships have been proposed between Kingston and Yonkers.
In an email, Cuomo spokesman James Allen stated, “This is one of more than 400 bills that passed both the Senate and Assembly at the end of the recently concluded legislative session and it remains under review by counsel’s office.”
The bill would amend existing law to allow state Department of Environmental Conservation officials to work with the Department of State and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to set “conditions for petroleum-bearing vessels to enter or move upon navigable waters of the state, as well as tanker-avoidance zones” in the lower Hudson River. Read more.
Kingston Daily Freeman: Federal legislation aimed at preventing large vessels from anchoring on the Hudson River between Kingston and Yonkers has been approved by the House, U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney said Friday.
Maloney, D-Cold Spring, said language he wrote to halt the U.S. Coast Guard’s proposed rulemaking to expand mooring infrastructure along that stretch of the river was included in the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act of 2017, which the House passed Thursday by a vote of 386-41.
Maloney’s said his “Anchorages Away Act,” if approved by the Senate and signed by the president, would require the Coast Guard, within 180 days of being enacted, to submit a report to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on the impacts of proposed anchorages on existing superfund sites and habitats of endangered species, as well as the Coast Guard’s response to those concerns.
The Coast Guard then would be barred from establishing any anchorages between Kingston and Yonkers until at least 180 days after submission of the report. Read more.
USCG Press Release: The U.S. Coast Guard has announced it will conduct a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment of the Hudson River.
In 2016, the U.S. Coast Guard promulgated an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPRM) to seek comprehensive public input and examine whether there is a need for a proposed rule on new anchorage grounds on the Hudson River to promote safe navigation. An ANPRM is an optional, pre-rulemaking tool for seeking information from the public.
More than 10,200 comments were received from waterway stakeholders during the ANPRM comment period that ended December 6, 2016. A summary of the comments can be found here in the docket for the ANPRM.
After a review of the comments, Rear Adm. Steven Poulin, Commander of the First Coast Guard District, has suspended future rulemaking decisions and directed a formal risk identification and evaluation of the Hudson River, known as a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA). The PAWSA process is a disciplined approach to identify major waterway safety hazards, estimate risk levels, evaluate potential mitigation measures, and set the stage for implementation of selected measures to reduce risk. Additional information about a PAWSA and the entire process can be found here at the Coast Guard Navigation Center website.
In the fall, a group of waterway users and stakeholders will conduct a two-day structured workshop to meet these objectives and ensure the PAWSA process is a joint effort involving waterway users, stakeholders, and agencies to determine the safety of the waterway.
The Coast Guard will announce the workshop dates, times, locations, and participant selection process in a separate notice. Within the workshop capacity, the District Commander’s goal is to build a team that helps ensure the diverse concerns conveyed in the ANPRM comments are represented through the PAWSA risk analysis process. The discussions will help promote navigation safety and environmental protection.
If members of the public wish to be considered for participation in the workshops please email: HudsonRiverPAWSA@uscg.mil by July 21 with name, contact information, connection to the waterway, experience, and related skills.
June 28, 2017
U.S. Coast Guard 1st District PA Detachment New York
Contact: Coast Guard PA Detachment New York
Office: (212) 514-4291
After Hours: (917) 703-0983