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Anchorages on the Hudson River

Draft
Ulster County Legislature Energy and Environment Committee Meeting August 8, 2016

Reference: Proposed United States Coast Guard Federally Designated Anchorage Grounds -Docket USCG-2016-0132, Hudson River

I attended the meeting of the Ulster County Legislature Energy and Environment Committee on August 8, 2016 Regarding the above subject. Two persons spoke to the subject;

Edward Kelly, Executive Director of the Maritime Association of the Port of New York/New Jersey and

John Lipscomb, Captain of the Riverkeeper

Remarks and observations;

I preface my remarks and observations of the presentations given at the committee meeting with my biographic subject matter expertise;
I served in the United States Navy from 1964 to 1968 in the rank of Petty Officer 2nd Class Boilerman, Non Commission Officer in charge of the Aft-fireroom, USS Zellars DD 777. During this enlistment I crewed one North Atlantic Ocean deployment, two deployments to the Mediterranean Sea, three deployments to the Caribbean Sea and numerous short voyages of Radar Picket Duty off the coast of the United States.
I served as a New York State Police Officer in Troop F which eastern boundary is the Hudson River with the Counties of Rockland, Orange, Ulster and Green abutting the Hudson River. I served as the Troop F Emergency Management Non Commissioner Officer and in that capacity was responsible for interfacing with federal, state and local jurisdictions in and for emergency responses. I was a member of the United States Coast Guard’s New York Harbor Working Group. I was a certified Hazardous Materials Technician and a New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control and New York State Office of Emergency Management Instructor.

Summary of remarks by Mr. Edward Kelly
Mr. Kelly advised the committee that the USCG proposed anchorage sites were being created to address safety concerns related to vessel equipment malfunctions, ice jambs, fog and crew fatigue. (Note: he did not cite any specific emergency incidents that have occurred that would substantiate the creation anchorages to address the problem) He further referenced the historical use by right of commercial maritime access to the Hudson River. Mr. Kelly explained that the Hudson River Commercial corridor provided numerous high paying jobs for American workers and the essential supply of various types of petroleum products needed in the Hudson Valley. He advised maritime conveyance was the lowest cost and highest safety transportation modality. In referencing apparent concerns of persons filing comments with the Coast Guard on the Anchorage Proposal, Mr. Kelly;
dismissed the subject of “View Shed” as the river having always contained commercial vessels and traffic. He mentioned that people who live near an airport should expect to see planes.
He similarly spoke to noise and lighting pollution concerns as being part of commerce and being regulated by the United States Coast Guard.
He mentioned that the discharge of polluted liquids is also regulated and enforced by the USCG.
(Note; In my experience the USCG has very limited resources assigned to monitor violations of transient commercial vessel pollution violations. On several occasions when I, as a New York State Trooper, attempted to report commercial vessels discharging liquid into the Hudson River, I was told there were no USCG enforcement patrols in the area. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Police have limited response capability in the warm weather seasons for such violations. Commercial vessels are rarely charged with “Liquid Discharge Violations” as it very difficult to prove a case. Ship Captains and Railroad Train Engineers have very significant power and authority and are not easily subject to local law.)

Mr. Kelly mentioned that he had heard the Hudson Valley was subject to severe cold weather and snow and that the residents would not want their supply of heating fuel interrupted during such times.
(Note: I do not understand the inference of a possible shortage of petroleum product if additional anchorages are not established. To date maritime traffic on the Hudson River has not impacted petroleum supply to the Hudson Valley that I am aware of. To link a supposed “Safety Proposal” to supply of essential petroleum product is unusual. The tenor of the remark smacks of a veiled threat of “No anchorages , No heating fuel”. )

With regard to response to Hazardous Materials releases, Mr. Kelly offered the admonition of “Shame on them” to communities that were not prepared to provide a comprehensive response to a Maritime Hazardous Materials Incident.
(Note; there is limited Maritime Spill/Hazardous Materials Release response municipal capability outside the New York City metropolitan area. Most suburban and rural communities are served by volunteer fire departments. Some volunteer fire departments which border the Hudson River have personnel rescue equipment for boating accidents. I do not know of any fire department that has vessels and equipment to respond to a major maritime hazardous material release. Releases on the Hudson River would require commercial environmental companies to respond. The trucking Industry of the United States shifted enormous Hazardous Material Release clean up responsibility on local fire departments in the early 1990’s. It took years to reestablish responsibility to the industry. Adding financial, training and logistical stressors to volunteer fire departments is unacceptable. )

Mr. Kelly noted that there was in fact an increase in the Sturgeon population in areas near anchorages. (Note; no documentation was provided)

Summary of remarks by John Lipscomb, Captain of the Riverkeeper

Captain Lipscomb commenced by stating the need for additional anchorages begins to be realized in the year 2012 when Bakken Crude oil began arriving at Albany NY. He advised that since 2012 the volume crude oil moved through Port of Albany has increased enormously (note;he mentioned very staggering figure but I was unable to capture the exact amounts and will add that information when it can be vetted). Captain Lipscomb maintains that the need for anchorages is actually a need for Staging locations due to the enormous volume in oil moved. The Captain also advised that Emergency Anchorages have always been granted for need and thus the “Safety Issue” is more a “Staging Issue” created by an increase in commerce. He noted that that political leaders in both the City of Albany and New York State were aware of the increased volume of maritime traffic due to the increase in oil movement. Captain Lipscomb stated that there was insufficient study on the effect of anchorages on the Sturgeon population. Captain Lipscomb offered no substantiation of any perceived need for greater safety measures on the Hudson River Corridor.

Conclusions ;
The case was not made for a safety need of increased anchorages. No documentation of safety related incidents were provided.

Anchorages will invariably produce pollution and the USCG is not presently equipped to provide oversight

Baseline monitoring of proposed anchorage sites needs to be conducted to be able to ascertain any change in levels of pollution and the point of origin should additional site be approved.

There is an enormous need to extend the comment period. There is so much clarification that needs to be done.

New York State and United States Representatives must contribute to the assessment of impacts on environment and emergency response capabilities. There are enormous economic and technical issues involved in the consideration of expanded commercialization of the Hudson River Corridor which are above and beyond the average citizen’s scope of knowledge and proficiency. Those who have access to the resources need to evaluate this proposal to protect the people of New York State.

Questions:

Will foreign vessels arrive in the Hudson River and will they have been screened/inspected in New York City or prior to Hudson River Anchorages? Are we creating security issues? Will foreign flag ships be inspected for passenger and crew Terrorist Watch List clearance ? Will vessels be inspected for health related criteria (virus)?

Will the United States Coast Guard increase oversight of anchorages if they are approved? At the current time the inspection of temporary anchored vessels is all but nonexistent.

Will Marine Hazardous Materials Release Response capability be initiated in the newly designated anchorage corridor.

Will pollution monitoring be initiated in a manner conducive to identifying and prosecuting polluters? Will anchorages be tested for pollution? How often? After each anchorage to assign source of contamination if needed?

Will there be a Central Control Point which approves and monitors anchorage permission and duration?

Has New York State Office of Emergency Management or the Federal Emergency Management Agency commented on the capability of Emergency Responders to address a major incident in the Upper Hudson River?

What is the economic advantage to crew and vessel managers like Pilots to layovers at anchorages $? What is the salary of Crews and Pilots?

Remarks ;

In my experience as an Emergency Manager/Responder I have found the corporate entities of Railroads, Airlines and Maritime services to be very autonomous and at times difficult to interact with. Maritime in particular is insulated and isolated from local jurisdiction by the physical body of water in which they ply their trade. National and international rules and laws complicate matters of jurisdiction, compliance and recompense. My experience as a seaman enables me to reference acceptable practice in inland waterways. There needs to be an immediate withdrawal of the Proposed expansion of Hudson River Anchorages and a consortium of local, State and Federal representatives need to convene to address this matter. There must be a cessation of any and all artificial time limits. This appears to be corporate power bullying at its worst and I am disappointed that those representatives who are entrusted to protect and preserve the public good have not acted decisively to date.

Jack Hayes
24 Tinkers Lane
Gardiner, NY 12525
845 255 5152
Jhayes2d8@gmail.com

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