USACE to hold hearing in Westchester about storm barrier proposal and impact on Hudson River

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Sen. Murphy press release: Albany, NY – When the United States Coast Guard announced an ill-conceived plan to establish 10 new anchorage sites for oil barges along the Hudson River, Senator Terrence Murphy led the charge that ultimately sank their proposal. When Entergy stunned the Hudson Valley with the news that they planned to close Indian Point by 2021, Senator Murphy led a bipartisan coalition of state, county, and local officials to secure $24 million in state funds to relieve the financial burden for residents in the area.

In early July, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) held a series of meetings to explore the impact of offshore barriers to protect the metropolitan region on storm surge flooding but failed to address sea level rise. They also neglected to hold any meetings in the Hudson Valley, despite it being the heart of the Hudson Valley Estuary. Senator Murphy made it his mission to see that the people most affected by the USACE’s actions would have a voice.

On Wednesday, October 3, the USACE, the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and Westchester County Executive George Latimer will host two scoping meetings for the New York and New Jersey Harbor and Tributaries (NYNJHAT) Study. The meetings will be held at the Westchester County Center, 198 Central Avenue, in White Plains, with the first meeting from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m. and the second from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.  But many say more needs to be done. Read More

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Scenic Hudson: New Study Details Oil Spill Risks on Hudson River

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New study provides first-ever comprehensive scientific analysis of risks to drinking water, habitats, riverfront communities. Report comes as U.S. Department of Transportation repeals rule requiring more efficient brakes on trains carrying crude oil, other flammable substances

HUDSON VALLEY—Polluted habitats and beaches spanning from Kingston to New York Harbor… Explosions causing significant human injury and fatalities… Toxic vapors that could pose serious health threats… A new scientific study of oil spill risks on the Hudson River evaluates the potential for disasters like these to occur.

Scenic Hudson commissioned Environmental Research Consulting (ERC), a leading expert in analyzing oil spill impacts and emergency preparedness, to undertake this first-ever Hudson River Oil Spill Risk Assessment (HROSRA). It is intended to provide stakeholders—including federal, state and local officials, spill responders, environmental groups and concerned citizens—with scientific data about the impacts a spill could have on drinking water, critical wildlife habitats, fishing and other recreational opportunities, and waterfront communities.

On September 24, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that it had repealed its rule mandating safety upgrades for trains carrying crude oil and other flammable substances. Under the rule, all trains bearing hazardous materials like these had until 2021 to install electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, which decrease the likelihood of derailment.  Read more.

(Photo: Tanker Sanchi Explosion in January 2018)

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Storm Surge Barriers: A threat to the very life of the Hudson & Harbor

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is considering several options for coastal storm protections in our region, and some of these options would have catastrophic consequences for the Hudson and New York Harbor. Specifically, storm surge barriers – giant ocean gates – would choke off tidal flow and the migration of fish – damaging the life of the Hudson River Estuary forever.

Scenic Hudson has a website page with links to the key documents and where to send your comments.  There’s also a page with some of the comments that have been submitted by public officials, journalists and members of the public, as well a list of government resolutions.

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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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