Oil on the Hudson River

The commercial maritime industry is requesting that the Coast Guard add 43 new anchorages (places where ships can anchor) at 10 locations along the Hudson River.  These new anchorages are being sought to increase the amount of oil that can be transported on the Hudson River.  The Maritime Association of the Port of NY/NJ Tug and Barge Committee, the Hudson River Port Pilot’s Association, and the American Waterways Operators made that fact very clear in their request to add these additional anchorages, saying,  “Trade will increase on the Hudson River significantly over the next few years with the lifting of the ban on American Crude exports for foreign trade and federally designated anchorages are key to supporting trade.”

Right now there are just two legitimate anchorages on the Hudson at Hyde Park and Yonkers.  New anchorages are proposed for: Kingston Flats South, Port Ewen, Big Rock Point, Milton, Roseton, Marlboro, Newburgh, Tompkins Corner, Verplanck and Buchanan (alongside the failing Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant), Montrose Point, and Yonkers Extension.

There are many reasons why adding these anchorages is the wrong decision for the Hudson River and New York, including a negative impact on waterfront tourism and coastal revitalization policies, but the most significant is that additional anchorages would pose extreme public health and safety risks from oil spills and explosions, and add momentum to the oil and gas industry’s efforts to turn New York State into a oil and gas state.

We’ve spent the last 50 years cleaning up the historic contamination of the Hudson River and, while it still contains some PCBs, tremendous progress has been made in restoring this iconic waterway.  Mountainkeeper believes that it makes no sense to consider an increase in traffic for tankers and barges carrying dirty tar sands  (technically called bitumen) and explosive Bakken oil that would jeopardize all of the progress made in cleaning up this magnificent river, and put surrounding communities at grave risk.

The threat of oil spills and explosions is real and deeply concerning. Bakken oil is highly volatile, and tar sands, which are diluted with petroleum-based products to facilitate transport, are just as explosive. Tar sands are also heavier and denser than water; if spilled, they would sink straight to the river bottom and be almost impossible to clean up.  Six years ago there was a major tar sands spill in the Kalamazoo River, and after a $1 billion cleanup, the river is still contaminated.


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