U.S. Coast Guard restarting review of possible Hudson River anchorage grounds

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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.

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