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Audio Feature: Hudson River stories

Nov 18, 2017 4:55 am
Here are some stories from the Hudson River this week. Click here to hear an audio version of this report. (6:21)

The Stevens Institute reports temperatures this week in the Hudson River at Schodack Island have been between 42 and 44 degrees, ten degrees cooler than last week's high.

Brian Nearing reports in the Albany Times Union that the U.S. Coast Guard moved its closed-door discussions about possible Hudson River large-barge anchorage sites to Albany this week. The previous week the Coast Guard held two days of meetings in Poughkeepsie for a "Ports and Waterways Assessment," studying transportation risks on the river. The Coast Guard has said since last year it needs places to park large ships on the Hudson River, though their proposal met with much resistance from New York state officials, local government leaders, and environmental groups. Rear Admiral Steven Poulin says the assessment is a, "process that allows us to take a really close look at risks – navigational and environmental risks – associated with a particular waterway and it helps us inform and give us a better understanding of what those risks are and how we may mitigate those risks," according to the Mid-Hudson News Network. The Coast Guard has invited the Hudson River Pilots, Hudson River Waterfront Allliance, Sierra Club, Tug and Barge Committee of New York/New Jersey, state Department of Environmental Conservation, Riverkeeper, Scenic Hudson, McAllister Towing, Pace University, and Samalot Marine, but not the public or media to the meetings. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a law in October that allows the Department of Environmental Conservation to consider potential environmental and waterfront impacts of transporting petroleum on state waterways such as the Hudson River. That came after the Coast Guard withdrew its large-barge anchorage proposal. Read the full story in the Albany Times Union.

Riverkeeper, the Hudson River environmental group, released an analysis of water quality data Nov. 16, showing that 21 percent of Hudson River Estuary samples failed to meet federal safe-swimming guidelines. Riverkeeper is suggesting that $4.8 billion needs to be spent to improve water quality in the Hudson River and its tributaries. “While most parts of the Hudson River Estuary are safe for swimming on most days, persistent water quality problems continue to challenge our river and its tributaries. We’ve put a price tag on this challenge to highlight the critical importance of New York State’s landmark clean water investments, and to call for renewed investments by the federal government,” said Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper’s Water Quality Program Director. Shapley said the state is working on the river, but they need more help from the federal government. “Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature have made the biggest commitment to clean water in a generation, with the passage of the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act in 2015 and the Clean Water Infrastructure Act in 2017,” Shapley said. “We are calling on the federal government to match the state investments, so we can accelerate the pace of water quality improvements.” In our area, Riverkeeper is calling for $715 million in spending on the Hudson River Estuary watershed, the tidal portion of the river, north of New York City and south of the Troy dam, including its tributaries. Combined Sewer Overflows remain significant causes of water quality problems. Outside of New York City, 16 communities in the Hudson River Watershed rely at least in part on combined sewers that carry both stormwater and sewage, and overflow into the Hudson or its tributaries at more than 210 discharge points when it rains. Locally, Coxsackie, Catskill, and Hudson all release Combined Sewer Overflows regularly after heavy rains. See the full report at Riverkeeper's website.

Kathleen Moore reports in the Post Star that Environmental Protection Agency officials said in Saratoga Nov. 16 dangerous quantities of PCBs have been being discovered in the dirt on the banks of the Hudson River. At a meeting with a community group, EPA Project Director Gary Klawinski said, “What we’re talking about is when the water goes out and you can walk in there, get mud on you, and bring it out with you.... I think the Department of Health would say you should wash that mud off your feet before you go inside.... But if you put a picnic blanket down and you have the potential to ingest that mud — that’s a very different thing.” General Electric Co., which is responsible for putting the PCBs into the river, has agreed to test the river banks, but has not yet agreed to clean up the river banks. Read the full story in the Post Star

The Daily News reports that Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has given up his legal battle to keep the Indian Point nuclear power plant open. On Nov. 16, Astorino’s lawyers filed paperwork to end two lawsuits he filed earlier this year to force the state to conduct a full environmental review of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to close the plant. “While the county executive still fully believes in the suit's merits, he felt it was inappropriate for him to continue with it given the change of administrations,” said Astorino spokesman Gerald McKinstry. Astorino lost his election earlier this month to Democratic state Sen. George Latimer. Read the full story in The Daily News.