The federal government’s plan to anchor oil-filled barges in the waters of the Hudson River, not far from Peekskill, is drawing sharp criticism from elected officials as well as some associated with the Peekskill Yacht Club.
“Dumping a bunch of barges filled with oil is not only dangerous but it is an eyesore,” said Peekskill Yacht Club Recording Secretary Peter Sanchirico. “If there is an oil spill in the river it is going to be here for years, if not decades. This will affect anyone who views the river and my understanding is that they are going to put one right across the river from us. There are no positives for the river or for us. The only positive is that moving them out of the city and putting them up here because it is less expensive.”
The Coast Guard’s proposal to create anchorage sites for commercial barges on the Hudson from Yonkers to Kingston—six of which would be in the 40th Senate District at Montrose Point and Tomkins Cove—was the subject of a Tuesday press conference in Verplanck where Peekskill Councilman Joe Torres, County Legislator John Testa and members of the Peekskill Yacht Club joined State Sen. Terrence Murphy, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and others in condemning the plan.
According to Murphy, more than 2,000 acres of the estuary will be taken over and used as anchorage grounds. He added that many riverside towns have invested millions of dollars to revitalize their waterfront areas and the sight of a tanker or barge anchored off shore could curtail business.
“They want to put oil barges in the channel of the Hudson River and I am concerned about the negative impact of having oil spill into the river and the dangers of navigating a boat with barges in the middle of the channel at nighttime,” said Torres, who himself is a boater. “The other thing is that it will be an eyesore for the river.”
Officials are encouraging residents to voice their concerns during the public comment period, which has been open for two months and extends through Sept. 7, though Testa said there is an effort to extend the public comment period.
U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman Chief Warrant Officer Allyson Conroy told WAMC that two maritime associations requested the anchorage sites for navigational safety reasons.
“We are not taking any of these proposals lightly but, if they were proposed, we have to look into it and see if they can benefit the maritime community or not,” Conroy told the radio station. “We’re asking the public to go to the website, to the docket number, and comment. All of those comments will be collected and analyzed through this comment period.”
She added that there will be public meetings in the spring of 2017, per the proposal process, along with an environmental study.
To register public comment and sign a petition from Murphy’s office, click here.