HUDSON RIVER VALLEY, N.Y.— After taking part in the U.S. Coast Guard’s Hudson River Ports and Waterway Safety Assessment (PAWSA) workshops, Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper praised the Coast Guard for holding the meetings and reiterated their continued opposition to any official designation of new anchorages—a request by industry that remains under consideration. The anchorages would be for industrial barges that could carry oil and other hazardous chemicals. During a series of November workshops in Poughkeepsie and Albany, Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper presented data showing that new anchorages are not needed and highlighted alternative strategies that could make the Hudson River safer for navigation and environmental protection without requiring additional anchorages.
Among the actions Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper proposed during the workshops were improving vessel traffic management and control, increasing oil spill response capability, enhancing Captains’ and Pilots’ access to tide, current and fog conditions and creating a Harbor Safety Committee for the Hudson River. These recommendations would enhance navigational safety without compromising environmental and community interests, and were generally well-received by the workshop participants. Professional mariners, industry representatives, environmental groups, municipalities and recreational boaters broadly acknowledged that there is no need for “long-term” anchoring on the Hudson, thus narrowing the issue to the question of whether the Coast Guard should propose designation of areas where only shorter-term anchoring would be permitted. Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper are committed to measures that will ensure and increase navigational safety and environmental protection without requiring new anchorages.
The two groups presented data that demonstrate there is no need for new federally designated anchorages on the Hudson River. Commercial vessel traffic volume is in a downward trend after peaking in the late 1990s, and market dynamics suggest that traffic is unlikely to increase in the foreseeable future. While acknowledging that there are occasions when vessels need to briefly anchor due to unsafe weather conditions or mechanical problems, Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper pointed out that commercial vessels already have the ability to anchor at numerous locations upon permission by the Coast Guard if required for safe navigation.
“Scenic Hudson commends the Coast Guard for convening the review,” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “The new federally designated anchorages have been proposed for navigational safety, but expert analysis demonstrates these industrial parking areas on the river aren’t needed. Relying on expert research of Hudson River navigation and safety conditions, during the PAWSA sessions, we proposed alternatives that would enhance navigation and environmental safety without new anchorages. These include enhanced communication and access to real time weather and navigation conditions, reduction of the hours maritime professionals work without rest, and more rapid deployment of spill response resources. We are pleased that not a single party advocated for long-term anchorages during the PAWSA workshop. We will continue to watchdog this process and advocate for the thousands of citizens, businesses, boaters and environmentalists who have opposed new federally designated anchorages because of the threat they pose to river safety, waterfronts and economic revitalization.”
“Riverkeeper greatly appreciates the extraordinary effort made by the Coast Guard in conducting these two PAWSA workshops,” said John Lipscomb, Riverkeeper’s Patrol Boat Captain and Vice President for Advocacy. “While the PAWSA process was not specifically intended to address the debate over additional federally designated anchorages requested by the tug and barge industry, it is a useful and necessary step toward resolving the issue. A very broad range of participants were invited—representatives from our communities, recreational boaters, marine businesses of all kinds, biologists, several state agencies and federal agencies, environmentalists and the commercial maritime industry. I believe that the PAWSA workshops were historic, and I am confident they have fostered beneficial new understanding and relationships between stakeholders who have at times been at odds. As a result of these workshops, I am quite confident that the safety concerns of the maritime industry can be fully addressed without an increase in anchored commercial traffic on the Hudson.”
The Coast Guard held the workshops as part of its PAWSA for the Hudson River. Full-day sessions took place Nov. 7-8 in Poughkeepsie and Nov. 15-16 in Albany. The PAWSA is a disciplined technical review conducted by the Coast Guard. A group of diverse stakeholders from the Hudson Valley discussed the safety conditions for all vessels on the waterway, assessing a wide range of risks, existing risk mitigation measures and possible new safety measures. The Coast Guard will produce a PAWSA Report summarizing the discussions and conclusions of the workshops. The report is expected to be publicly released in early 2018. Any specific recommendations to come out of the PAWSA would require additional regulatory actions and public comment before being implemented.
Riverkeeper is a member-supported watchdog organization dedicated to defending and restoring the Hudson River and its tributaries and protecting the drinking water supply of nine million New York City and Hudson Valley residents. Riverkeeper patrols the Hudson River Estuary from the Upper Hudson and Mohawk rivers to New York Harbor and the Upper East River, logging over 5,000 nautical miles per year, conducting enforcement, educating the public and assisting science research. Since its beginnings more than 50 years ago, Riverkeeper has helped to establish globally recognized standards for waterway and watershed protection and serves as the model and mentor for the growing Waterkeeper movement that includes more than 300 Keeper programs around the globe. Visit us at www.riverkeeper.org and follow us @Riverkeeper.
About Scenic Hudson
Scenic Hudson helps citizens and communities preserve land and farms and create parks where people experience the outdoors and enjoy the Hudson River. We also bring together people, businesses and government to protect the river and natural resources that are the engines of the valley’s local economies. Started in 1963 by a handful of citizens who cherished the simple pleasures of the outdoors along the Hudson, Scenic Hudson is credited with launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today, in the face of new challenges and the effects of climate change, we are dedicated to making the Hudson Valley a great place to live, work and play. Our focus is on strengthening and maximizing benefits all can enjoy from the region’s great assets—beautiful open spaces, working farms, and vibrant cities and town centers.