On Oct. 24, 2017 Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law that restricts where oil tankers can anchor on the Hudson River.
Environmental groups are recommending a variety of safety initiatives to further protect the Hudson River, including limiting where barges and tankers can anchor on the Hudson.
Recommendations from Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson and Hudson River Sloop Clearwater include further traffic management and control of vessels, stepping up oil spill response, increasing captains’ and pilots’ access to tide, current and fog conditions, and launching a Harbor Safety Committee for the Hudson River.
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The groups made the recommendations during a series of safety workshops organized earlier this month by the U.S. Coast Guard.
John Lipscomb, the boat captain for Riverkeeper, said recommendations from the environmental groups, included:
- Extend the Vessel Traffic Service, which coordinates large commercial vessel movements up to the Holland Tunnel, up to Albany.
- Enhance the Automatic Identification System, which allows vessels to broadcast through their radios, to be broadcast via satellite throughout the entire river.
- Enhance the boater safety education with a focus on small recreational boats, to help avoid crashes between large commercial vessels and small boats.
- Expand the Harbor Safety Committee, which is currently limited to New York Harbor, to stakeholders on the Hudson from New York City up to Albany.
- Allow large vessels to have access to the cameras on the bridges. “If they could look ahead and see if there is fog they can be better prepared to handle those conditions,” said Lipscomb, who has been patrolling the Hudson River for 17 years.
Lipscomb said all recommendations share the goal of “helping commercial mariners anticipate traffic on the river.”
The recommendations also indirectly address the Anchorages bill, a new bipartisan law that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed in October, which allows for legislation that would create guidelines where oil tankers can anchor on the Hudson River.
The legislation was first proposed by Poughkeepsie-based Scenic Hudson in January, following the U.S. Coast Guard’s controversial proposal to allow up to 43 barges and oil tankers anchor at 10 sites along for up to 30 days. That proposal was nixed after the Coast Guard received 10,212 comments from community members, many of them concerned about the plan.
Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson pointed out that commercial vessels that face weather and mechanical problems, can currently anchor at numerous locations with permission by the Coast Guard.
“We want to ensure the Coast Guard is monitoring these vessels whenever distress is involved, but we also want to ensure the vessels move on.”
The Coast Guard will issue an official report, which includes potential solutions, based on recommendations from the workshops in early 2018. Allyson Conway a spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard said the Coast Guard may revisit their proposal after the official report is issued.
Amy Wu: 845-451-4529, email@example.com, Twitter: @wu_PoJo
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