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Mid Hudson TimesNo room for big barges

No room for big barges

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed legislation that blocks a proposal by the U.S. Coast Guard to build ten anchorage sites along a 70-mile stretch between Yonkers and Kingston on the Hudson River. The anchorages would have provided stops for large ships and barges travelling to and from the Port of New York.

“The original proposal is effectively dead, but I want to make sure it stays dead and buried,” said Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney in a July press release. “Getting my bill passed is just another way we can stop this thing and learn the effects that this – or any future – proposal will have on our river and our communities.”

The Anchorages Away Act requires the Coast Guard to submit a report to the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure detailing the impacts of the proposed anchorages on existing Superfund sites and endangered-species habitats.

The Coast Guard suspended its anchorages plan in June, after it received roughly 10,000 comments during the project’s public-comment period. “I’ve been told by the Coast Guard that, essentially, 100 percent of those comments were negative,” Maloney said, speaking before Congress in May.

Residents and environmental groups voiced concerns about potential threats to drinking water, river ecology, wildlife, boaters and development along the riverfront.

If the bill also passes in the U.S. Senate, it will prevent the Coast Guard from building any anchorage areas on the Hudson River, between Yonkers and Kingston, until at least 180 days after submitting the report.

Maloney’s bill was included as part of the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act of 2017. The legislation passed in the House by a vote of 386 to 41. It was unclear on Tuesday when senators would vote on the bill.

In late June, the Coast Guard announced it would carry out a “Ports and Waterways Safety Assessment” to look closer at the conditions and risks associated with anchorage sites along the river. According to Maloney’s office, the assessment process will include working groups of stakeholders appointed by the Coast Guard.

In a July 19 letter to U.S. Coast Guard Commander Steven Poulin, Maloney asked that at least half of these stakeholders be comprised of members from “communities along the Hudson River, impacted businesses and environmental groups.”

By SHANTAL RILEY
sriley@tcnewspapers.com

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