Letter to the editor:The U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) is considering the adoption of regulations that would establish new anchorage grounds for commercial vessels along the Hudson River
My personal experience-
As one who lives on the banks of the Hudson River for 10 years, I have watched the Oil Barges go up and down the Hudson in all seasons. It was part of river life and no barges actually moored in front of Kingston, Rhinecliff or Esopus- all in view of my house. Then, in 2012, I noticed a huge increase in the number of Barges, and all of a sudden, Barges were mooring with in view of my house- sometimes three at a time. I found out that The Port of Albany had become the distribution point for volatile Bakken Crude- from fracking in North Dakota. This volatile Gas- oil mixture ignites at 74 degrees and has caused huge explosions and fires in Canada, and the US, wiping out towns! In 2012, oil prices were high and tugs and Barges were recruited from other places( like the Great Lakes) to pick up and deliver to refineries by both trains ( which went through the center of many towns, and were not built to safely haul this volatile new mixture- and were dubbed bomb trains) and Oil Barges along the Hudson River.
All of a sudden living on the Hudson became nightmarish. When I started to understand what was happening, I realized- this was not about supplying Heating oil to populations in the river anymore- this was about huge profits that were being made by commercial companies handling this stuff, at the expense of private citizens and our beautiful Hudson River. After talking to one of the crew who came on my property to take a photograph of his rig- it became clear that barges were being staged as the bosses wanted the port to have no down time,and ” would get angry if the barges were 10 minutes late”. Staged in front of my 180 degree view would be up to three to four Barges, for days and weeks at a time- with stadium lighting at night- 24-7 generators that you could hear and smell from shore, a virtual parking lot up and down the river.
The lights would turn my bedroom into daylight at night and the smell and particulate from the generators would choke you if the wind was right. As a fine art photographer, whose subject is the Hudson River, I was in shock and mourning.
I later found out from the coast guard that the barges were mooring illegally and it largely stopped in 2015, when the barges were ordered to stop by the Coast Guard with risk of large fines. Now the same companies are requesting these moorings. They supply fuel oil very well to the area without these moorings all this time.
The price of oil has been low- and The Bakken fields are in a bit of a depression for the time being- but a new rule which forbade export of oil has been lifted, and there is a new motivation for profit and for these 10 permanent mooring spots ( with over 30 actually boat moorings) so barges can be staged once again. This is not about supplying fuel oil to the region- this is about dollar signs and huge profits to be made, at the expense of everyone else. No more sail boat races and recreation- marred beauty- the destruction of the view shed and the tearing up of the bottom of the river where shad are making a comeback. Bright lights disorient birds and the local eagle population, also on the rise, will be effected. The safety of the towns along the river will be in jeopardy ( so many like Rhinebeck, Esopus, Poughkeepsie get their drinking water from the Hudson) So read- get your facts straight, and comment on the Coast guard site.
This is about corporate profits verses you- average Joes who love and enjoy the river. Not about our regions supply of heating oil!
It is analogous to a huge moving company parking their moving trucks in the streets of your neighborhood!
Carolyn Marks Blackwood
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