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NEW YORK STATE — Under pressure from the oil and shipping industry, the U.S. Coast Guard is considering a proposal to establish 43 new anchorages for oil barges along the Hudson River from Yonkers, NY to Kingston, NY. These anchorages would serve the oil industry by creating an outlet for oil arriving by rail into the Port of Albany, and would dramatically increase oil transportation along the Hudson River.
This proposal comes during an on-going 50-year effort by the public to clean up the Hudson River from historic contamination from industrial waste-products such as PCBs. The historical contamination of the Hudson, and the on-going environmental threats to the river are documented in a film by Jon Bowermaster titled “The Hudson: A River At Risk.”
Catskill Mountainkeeper commented on the proposal saying they strongly oppose an increase in traffic for tankers and barges carrying tar sands oil and highly-volatile Bakken oil along the Hudson River. The environmental group says tar sands oil, in particular, poses an unacceptable risk to the Hudson, as it is heavier and denser than water. In the event of a spill, this tar sands oil would sink directly to the river bottom and make remediation extremely difficult if not impossible.
“This is an inappropriate, unnecessary, and unacceptable use of a public resource. We cannot tolerate an increase in traffic for tankers and barges carrying dirty tar sands (technically called bitumen) and Bakken oil, materials perhaps impossible to remediate once spilled and that would jeopardize all of the progress made in cleaning up this magnificent river, while simultaneously putting surrounding communities at grave risk,” said Kathy Nolan, Catskill Mountainkeeper senior research director.
“Increased shipping on the Hudson River also directly conflicts with existing and planned tourism activities along the river, such as kayaking, boating, ice-sailing and other recreational activities. The anchorages themselves would adversely affect planning for and use of local riverside areas and trails. Parking large commercial ships right next to New York communities causes adverse visual impacts along with the environmental and public health risks. Given these, and other potential negative impacts, Catskill Mountainkeeper opposes these new anchorages, and demands a full Environmental Impact Assessment of this proposal, along with public hearings and a detailed site-specific analysis of each of the proposed sites addressing all possible environmental, health, and safety impacts, as well as conflicts with existing and planned river and riverside tourism plans.”