RIVERFRONT ACTION: Hudson Valley Residents and Leaders Speak Out in Opposition to Proposed Hudson River Anchorages

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 -- Audrey Friedric...

Kingston Anchorages Simulation

Kingston Anchorages Simulation

Simulation of barge anchorages near Kingston.

Hudson Valley residents and elected officials are expressing major concerns about a proposal by the U.S. Coast Guard to adopt regulations that would establish 10 new anchorage grounds for barges and other vessels in the Hudson River between Kingston, Ulster County, and Yonkers, Westchester County. The proposal is the result of a request from the maritime industry, which anticipates transporting higher volumes of crude oil and refined petroleum products through the region due to the lifting of a federal ban on their exportation. Scenic Hudson has released a 3D video simulation of the new anchorages, which would cover 2,400 acres and are essentially parking lots for up to 43 vessels, many of which would contain these volatile and flammable liquids.

The three northernmost anchorage areas would be at a so-called “Kingston Hub”—one located off the City of Kingston (279 acres for three anchorages); another between Port Ewen and Rhinecliff (47 acres; one anchorage); and the third off Big Rock Point, across from the Wilderstein historic site (208 acres; four anchorages). See this video for a simulation of the Kingston Hub anchorages.

The next cluster of anchorage areas—four in all—begins off the hamlet of Milton, Ulster County (74 acres; two anchorages), with the remainder sitting off Dutchess County’s Bowdoin Park in the Town of Poughkeepsie (155 acres; three anchorages); the picturesque hamlet of Chelsea (305 acres; three anchorages); and between the cities of Newburgh, Orange County, and Beacon, Dutchess County (445 acres; five anchorages). The latter anchorage area also sits offshore Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park and Denning’s Point State Park in Beacon and can be seen in this video simulation.

Two more anchorage grounds (98 acres and 127 acres, three anchorages each) would be located between the hamlet of Verplanck, Westchester County, and Stony Point and West Haverstraw, Rockland County. These sit offshore Stony Point Battlefield State Historic Site, Montrose Point State Forest and George’s Island Park. The tenth and most southerly anchorage ground would be an extension of existing grounds offshore the Palisades. It would add an immense 715 acres for 16 anchorages, and would stretch from Yonkers to Dobbs Ferry. It is simulated in this video.

This proposal stands to benefit the oil industry while subjecting Hudson Valley residents to all of the risks. The anchorages threaten ongoing efforts to revitalize downtown riverfronts, creating the potential for significant light, air and noise pollution. They pose safety hazards to boaters and others who enjoy the Hudson for recreational purposes and would destroy iconic vistas. The vessels’ anchors would disturb the river bottom, imperiling several state-designated Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats, including breeding grounds for endangered sturgeon. And last but certainly not least, a spill of crude or other petroleum products in the tidal Hudson—which provides drinking water to several municipalities—would be difficult, if not impossible, to clean up.

A growing number of voices—environmental and business groups; mayors, county executives, and state and federal officials; and citizens in affected communities—stand united against the proposal. In his October testimony at a public hearing held by three state senators in the Town of Croton, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan described what’s at stake: “The Hudson River is our region’s most important natural asset. It’s vital to the environment, to the public health, and a powerful engine for the economy and job creation.” Mr. Sullivan added that the proposal would be a disaster, making the Hudson a “superhighway” for fossil fuel.

Steve Hutkins, a Hudson Valley resident agrees. His concern over the anchorages is so great that he’s launched a website to help disseminate information on the proposal to other interested residents. “When a catastrophic oil spill ruins the Hudson—which will inevitably happen if these anchorages are approved and oil barge traffic significantly increases—each of us will need to ask, 'What did I do to prevent this?  What more might I have done?'”

So far, the Coast Guard has received over 10,000 comments from the public on the proposal, with the vast majority stating their opposition due to concerns over the anchorages’ unacceptable impacts on the Hudson River and communities along it. The Coast Guard has announced it will hold public meetings, but these won’t occur until this spring—so it’s vital for the Coast Guard to hear from you now. To do so, email Rajiv.Khandpur@uscg.mil.

Let the Coast Guard know this plan endangers all the work we’ve accomplished to make the Hudson River cleaner and our waterfront communities more economically vibrant—prime reasons so many people choose to live in and visit our beautiful valley.