Understanding the Behavior and Impact of a Hudson River Oil Spill

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Scenic Hudson: To further protect the Hudson River and lands surrounding it, Scenic Hudson commissioned the first-ever Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment. It provides quantitative and qualitative information on the likelihood of oil spills occurring on the river, and gauges their potential economic, community and environmental impacts. The assessment also takes a comprehensive look at current spill-prevention measures and response preparedness, and offers strategies to improve them.

The Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment provides both quantitative and qualitative information on spill threats that can be used for a variety of purposes, including, but not limited to:

  • assessing the efficacy of existing spill prevention measures
  • developing or evaluating the potential for new spill prevention measures
  • assessing the current state of spill response preparedness
  • developing or evaluating the potential for new spill response preparedness measures
  • assessing current spill contingency planning
  • developing new spill contingency planning measures

Many factors influence the harm an oil spill can cause to resources vital to the region’s public and environmental health. They include the trajectory of spilled oil, its chemical and physical properties, and when and where a spill occurs. To provide a realistic overview of possible outcomes, the assessment details 77 hypothetical spill scenarios in nine locations along the Hudson.  Read more.

(Photo: The team that created the Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment was led by Dr. Dagmar Schmidt Etkin (third from left) of Environmental Research Consulting in Cortlandt Manor, and included Dr. Deborah French McCay and Jill Rowe of RPS Ocean Science, John Joeckel of SEAConsult and Dr. Andrew Wolford of Risknology, Inc.)

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Army Corps of Engineers fast-tracks proposal for floodwall barriers to protect NY Harbor, endangering life of Hudson River

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Riverkeeper: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering six different plans for massive offshore barriers and/or land-based floodwalls intended to “manage the risk of coastal storm damage” to New York Harbor and the Hudson Valley. Several of these alternatives could threaten the very existence of the Hudson as a living river.

If you live anywhere near the shorelines of New York City, New York Harbor or the Hudson up to Troy, your community will be forever affected by this decision.

Anyone who cares about the life in the Hudson River needs to become informed and involved, now.

Please attend one of these meetings, just announced:

• Monday, July 9, 3-5 p.m., NYC: Borough of Manhattan Community Center in Tribeca, enter at 199 Chambers St, New York, NY 10007, between Greenwich St. and the West Side Highway. The session is in the Conference Room-Richard Harris Terrace, on the main floor.

• Monday, July 9, 6-8 p.m., NYC: (duplicate session) at the Borough of Manhattan Community Center in Tribeca, enter at 199 Chambers St., Manhattan, between Greenwich St. and the West Side Highway. The session is in the Conference Room-Richard Harris Terrace, on the main floor.

• Tuesday, July 10, 3-5 p.m., Newark: Rutgers University-Newark Campus, Paul Robeson Campus Center, 2nd floor, Essex Room. Entrance is at 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, N.J.

• Tuesday, July 10, 6-8 p.m., Newark: (duplicate session) at Rutgers University-Newark Campus, Paul Robeson Campus Center, 2nd floor, Essex Room. Entrance is at 350 Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Newark, N.J.

• Wednesday, July 11, 6-8 p.m., Poughkeepsie: Hudson Valley Community Center (Auditorium room), 110 Grand Avenue, Poughkeepsie, N.Y.

This process is being fast-tracked, and it’s an outrage. The Army Corps gave only 12 days’ notice for meetings on an issue that will take many years to resolve and could change the river forever.

The six alternatives are under consideration as part of the New York – New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries (NYNJHAT) Coastal Storm Risk Management Feasibility Study, affecting more than 2,150 square miles. We all know that sea level rise and more frequent, intense storms require action and planning. But there is a difference between creating more protective, resilient shorelines over time, and installing massive, in-water barriers that threaten to change the ecosystem forever. Offshore barriers will choke off tidal flow and fish migration – the very life of our river.

Riverkeeper is working on an information piece to tell you what you need to know. Please mark your calendars and stay tuned.  Learn more.

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Maloney, Engel Seek Coast Guard Commitment on any new anchorage proposals

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HVNN.com: Representatives Sean Patrick Maloney (NY-18) and Eliot Engel (NY-16) have requested that the Coast Guard commit to conducting early public outreach and release an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to proposing any new anchorage proposals.

They also requested that the Guard permanently maintain a Harbor Safety Committee for the Hudson River north of the George Washington Bridge.

In 2017, the Coast Guard rescinded its initial proposal to establish new anchorage sites along the river and instead opted to conduct a Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment (PAWSA). Although the initial proposal is dead, no legal barrier prohibits future attempts to propose the establishment of new anchorage sites in the river.

“The Hudson Valley killed the first anchorage proposal together – ten thousand citizens, committed local groups, and elected officials on both sides of the aisle – but this thing could come back – and if it does, we want to be ready,” said Rep. Maloney. “We’re just asking the Coast Guard to do things in a more transparent way this time around – clearly this means a lot to us, and they need to take that into account before they propose adding even a single new anchorage site.”  Read more.

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Sunken barge recovered from Hudson River at Port of Coeymans

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Times Union: Scuba divers and underwater cutting equipment were used Wednesday to remove a sunken barge from the bottom of the Hudson River at the Port of Coeymans.

The barge had been there since sinking in February while tied up at the port, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Steve Strohmaier. The barge could not be refloated, and was too heavy to lift, so it had to be cut up underwater and lifted out in sections, he said.

At the time of the sinking, the barge was carrying construction and demolition debris, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

That waste was recovered from the river before efforts were made to remove the barge, according to DEC. The agency added that “no adverse environmental impacts are expected from the salvage operation.”  Read more.

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Scenic Hudson cheers company plan to scale back crude oil shipping through Hudson River, rail system

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Daily Freeman: Environmental advocacy group Scenic Hudson is cheering a decision by an oil transportation company to scale back its crude oil shipping plans on the Hudson River and rail system.

Massachusetts-based Global Partners said earlier this week it would scale back a permit that allows it to increase the amount of tar sands crude oil from 450 million gallons to 2.2 billion gallons annually.

The move was announced earlier this week based on information provided from the state Department of Environmental Conservation to opponents, but a public document was not immediately available Thursday.

“We need to await Global’s permit modification application to DEC to see the exact numbers, but what they stated was they would be significantly scaling back their currently allowed crude oil output and that they would be withdrawing their application to handle the heavy tar sands product at their Albany terminal,” said Hayley Carlock, Scenic Hudson’s environmental advocacy director.  Read more.

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Global Partners Withdraws Application To Build Crude Oil Heating Facility At Port Of Albany

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WAMC: A company that handles crude oil shipped by tanker trains and Hudson River barges says it’s scaling back operations at the Port of Albany.

County Executive Dan McCoy got the official word Tuesday that Massachusetts-based Global Partners opted to withdraw its application to expand operations and build a crude oil heating facility at the port. McCoy held a press conference Wednesday morning in a parking lot near the playground at Ezra Prentice Homes on South Pearl Street in Albany.  “And it’s been almost four years to the day that I stood here and I signed a moratorium against Global. And the thing about when I signed that moratorium, everyone said to me ‘what’s a little county like Albany County gonna do against a giant like Global?’ Well, I stand here today and I can tell ya, we did a lot, and you can make a difference if you stick to it and you see it through.”

Global sued the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2013 for not issuing the permit, which was opposed by environmental groups and Ezra Prentice residents, who say they live in constant fear of oil spills, odors and the possibility their lives could be disrupted if there was a derailment of nearby freight trains.   “We want people that live here to enjoy the quality of life and to be safe. And again, you know when you fight Goliath vs. David, you can win with the right team behind you. And I want to again thank the team and the residents for everything that they did.”  Read more.

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Pace Students Travel To DC, Advocate For Hudson River

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Putnam Daily Voice: Students in Pace University’s Environmental Policy Clinic along with their adviser, John Cronin, spent Friday, April 20 in Washington, D.C., advocating for issues related to the Hudson River.

Cronin is the senior fellow for Environmental Affairs at Pace.  Cronin said a controversial proposal for oil barge anchorages on the Hudson River was the subject of their visit with the region’s congressional delegation.

“Our students conveyed the need for Coast Guard procedures that assure both river protection and river safety,” said Cronin, who is the Clinic instructor.

“We hope that representatives of the tug and barge industry, who have also been active in Washington, agree with the Clinic that these issues need not be at odds,” Cronin told Daily Voice.  Read more.

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Amtrak’s Proposal for New Fences and Gates along the Hudson

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Amtrak has submitted a proposal to New York State to install fencing and gates at several locations along the Hudson River in Rhinecliff, Tivoli, Germantown, Stockport and Stuyvesant. The purpose of the fences and gates is to keep people safe, but these barriers will block people from enjoying access points to the the Hudson that they have enjoyed access for years.

Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper have encouraged their members to submit comments on the proposal.  The public comment period has been extended to Tuesday, May 1.

Here’s a page with more information and maps of the proposed fences and gates.

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