New map highlights extensive threats offshore crude oil “parking lots” pose to public health and safety, prime environmental and economic assets
PRESS RELEASE – Scenic Hudson has called on the U.S. Coast Guard (USGS) to halt the rulemaking process regarding new anchorage ground on the Hudson River, and it urges the public to submit public comments opposing the plan prior to the Tuesday, Dec. 6, deadline.
Scenic Hudson’s call comes on the heels of its creation of a virtual map that makes startlingly clear the dangers the Hudson River and communities along it face from the proposal to create 10 new anchorage areas with 43 berths along an approximately 80-mile stretch of the river. The anchorages would serve primarily as industrial storage areas for massive barges loaded with millions of gallons of explosive, health-threatening crude oil.
The map—which can be viewed at www.scenichudson.org/sites/default/files/proposed-anchorages-nov16.pdf—highlights the extent of the threats posed by the anchorages to public health and safety, the environment and economic interests:
- By massing volatile crude oil—up to 64 million gallons in one anchorage alone—they present prime targets for terror attacks near major population centers, including Yonkers, New York’s fourth-largest city. Two of the new anchorages lie within three miles of the Indian Point nuclear power plant.
- Six drinking water intakes on the Hudson River could be impacted in the case of a spill from an anchored barge. Drinking water intakes in Rhinebeck, Dutchess County, and Port Ewen, Ulster County, are immediately proximate to proposed anchorages, while four others are at downstream locations that spilled oil could reach within a few hours.
- The anchorages would negatively impact views enjoyed from 248 sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places, including many of the region’s prime historic and cultural attractions. They also could mar vistas that draw hikers to popular parks such as Scenic Hudson High Banks Preserve and Kingston Point Park in Ulster County, Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve, Storm King State Park, Scenic Hudson’s Long Dock Park in Beacon, Bear Mountain State Park, Palisades Interstate Park and Untermyer Park in Yonkers, Westchester County. Assets like these are the foundation of the Hudson Valley’s $5.2-billion tourism economy responsible for nearly 85,000 jobs.
- Eight of the 10 proposed anchorages are located within state-designated Significant Coastal Fish and Wildlife Habitats. These areas contain irreplaceable aquatic habitat deemed essential to the survival of fish and wildlife populations, including federally endangered Atlantic and shortnose sturgeon as well as many other sensitive species that must be preserved under the tenets of New York’s Coastal Management Program.
- The anchorages also could stall ongoing economic development projects along many community riverfronts—including Kingston, Beacon, Newburgh and Yonkers—by contributing significant air, noise and light pollution. In addition, they would jeopardize strides made to provide safe access to and enjoyment of the river.
The USCG began soliciting public comments on the proposal in June. The number of comments has been so strong—over 4,000 received to date, with the vast majority expressing grave concerns about the plan—that the Coast Guard pushed back the deadline to submit opinions from Sept. 7 to Dec. 6. Comments can be made by visiting www.regulations.gov/document?D=USCG-2016-0132-0001 and clicking on the “Comment Now!” button at the top of the page.
Acclaimed filmmaker Jon Bowermaster has completed a new short documentary, Anchors Away, which vividly describes the harmful impacts the anchorages could have on the river. The film is the latest in Bowermaster’s series “The Hudson: A River at Risk,” which draws attention to the many environmental concerns facing the river. The latest film can be viewed atwww.vimeo.com/191564361.