Coast Guard Anchorage Proposal Follow-up:
By Mary Keon
As a follow-up to last week’s story on the Coast Guard Hudson River Anchorage Point proposal, the Guardian contacted Coast Guard spokesperson Allyson Conroy in New York, to find out why the Anchorage Points were suddenly proposed. According to Conroy, in 2015, the Coast Guard reminded Maritime officials that they are only allowed to anchor at Federally designated anchorage points. Maritime officials responded that there is only one such Anchorage point between Yonkers and Kingston, located at Dobbs Ferry, and more are needed.
As we know, the Coast Guard is proposing a total 10 anchorage points between Yonkers and Kingston to remedy this. At each point, they specify how many barges can be anchored there, the swing radius and how many acres the Anchorage covers.
Conroy states that Federal rules and stipulations must be followed at all times. For example, there may be a 96-hour maximum limit at a specific location. Anchorages may also be prohibited altogether on certain days of the year, such as between Dec. 16- and the last day in February due, to potential ice formation. Rules and Stipulations are set by the Coast Guard and not by the local municipality, however. Conroy says that the public is encouraged to submit comments by mail or in the comments box at www.regulations.gov now through Dec. 6th.
There will not be Public Hearings, according to Conroy, who explained that Hearings are more of a legal proceeding where evidence is submitted and a decision rendered. She states that Public Meetings are encouraged to identify issues of concern that can then be forwarded to the Coast Guard.
Conroy does not anticipate Coast Guard officials attending Public Meetings, nor is she in a position to know if the Coast Guard will move forward on their proposal, at the end of the comment period. She said the Coast Guard does not know if more barge traffic on the Hudson can be expected, if the Anchorage Points are established, as their role is to establish regulations, while Commerce is a function of supply and demand.
Of major concern is the cargo that potentially could be anchored along our waterways and whether or not barges would be attended at all times. During a telephone interview, Eric Johannson, Executive Director NJ Tug and Barge Committee for the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/ New Jersey pointed out that “oil barges are crewed and no one would ever leave an oil barge without crew.” He also observed that water transport of goods requires far less expenditure of oil than transporting the same amount, by either rail or truck, making maritime commerce, which adheres to extremely high safety guidelines, a very green industry. Johannson expects water transport on the Hudson to proceed as it always has even if the new regulations are adopted.