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tion to have firm regulatory authority, and therefore they began to object to any type of legislation which had these conditions?
Admiral BURSLEY. That is my understanding.
Mr. HEYWARD. And also, is it not true that this Administration has submitted a reorganization plan, which also has authority in recognizing the rights of either House to overrule a proposed reorganization by the President?
Admiral BURSLEY. That is correct. My feeling would be that a reorganization plan is unique in that respect.
Mr. HEYWARD. In the statement of the counsel from the Department of Transportation endorsing the previous proposal, are you aware of whether it was cleared with OMB as being consistent with the President's legislative program?
Admiral BURSLEY. My understanding is that it was cleared.
Mr. HEYWARD. There was no statement on that letter at all, and I understand that that is one of the requirements in the legislative process, that there be a statement on any submission to the Congress on legislation, that this is in accordance with the President's legislative program.
Is that not correct? Matter of procedure?
Mr. HEYWARD. I will make a note for the record that there is no such statement on the letter from the Department of Transportation.
I do not know whether it was cleared with the President. I will recognize that since your statement had been cleared by OMB, that there is a recognition on the position here, but contained in that recognition is an endorsement of legislative implementation, in your overall statement, is that not true?
Admiral BURSLEY. Yes, to fill out some areas that we feel are not taken care of in the principle of self-execution.
Mr. HEYWARD. The basic disagreement that you have with the Congressional bill now is that it provides for a concurrent resolution of this, rather than a joint resolution?
Admiral BURSLEY. That is certainly the most difficult one, yes. Mr. HEYWARD. Are there any others?
Admiral BURSLEY. Well, we have suggested that the regulatory power that is needed is sufficient in section 8, without the use of sections 6 and 7, but I do not regard that as any major difficulty.
Mr. HEYWARD. Particularly since it is consistent with the present statute, is it not?
Admiral BURSLEY. Yes.
Mr. HEYWARD. In connection with these other points that you raised on the western rivers rules, do you think we really need that in this legislation, to clarify issues?
It is my understanding from your statement that there is presently a statement in the Western Rivers Rules on mandatory compliance with certain sections of the old 1948 rule, which were repealed.
So the statement in the western rivers rule is meaningless, is it not?
Admiral BURSLEY. Well, there is some feeling that repeal of the 1948 rules can be construed as reflecting back to the 1890 Act.
Mr. HEYWARD. It has been there how long?
Mr. HEYWARD. Can we not wait until we codify the western rivers rules?
Admiral BURSLEY. I do not think this is anything that we could not wait for Mr. HEYWARD. Thank you. Mr. BragGI. Mr. D’Amours? Mr. D’AMOURS. I have nothing. Mr. BIAGGI. Mr. Hughes? Mr. HUGHES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I have no questions. Mr. Biaggi. Thank you, gentlemen. That is all, thank you very much.
Mr. Evans and Mr. Treen have indicated they have no questionsMr. Oberstar?
Mr. OBERSTAR. Mr. Chairman, I believe the major issue that confronted the committee and the Congress in the 94th Congress, the President's withholding of his signature, has been resolved in this legislation.
We would prefer to proceed with it; it is important to go ahead with this legislation, and therefore I move that the subcommittee report the bill to the full committee with the recommendation that the bill be passed, with the usual instructions to the staff to make conforming technical and clerical changes.
Mr. BIAGGI. All right.
(Whereupon, at 11:10 a.m., the subcommittee adjourned, subject to the call of the Chair.]
PORTS AND WATERWAYS SAFETY
MONDAY, JULY 18, 1977
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
New York, N.Y. The subcommittee met at 10:15 a.m., in room 305, 26 Federal Plaza, New York, N.Y., Hon. Mario Biaggi, chairman of the subcommittee, presiding.
Mr. Biaggi. The meeting is called to order.
We apologize for being a little tardy this morning, but we were on a field trip with Commissioner O'Hagen's deputy chief, Tom Russ, on the waterfront.
I have with me another member of the committee, the gentleman from California, Congressman Jerry Patterson. And we are delighted that he could visit with us and participate in these hearings so that he will get a fair idea of the potential of our problems.
The hearing this morning concerns disaster planning, prevention and response in the Port of New York.
Who is responsible? What capabilities do the Federal Government and the local government-specifically the U.S. Coast Guard and the New York City Fire Department-have to respond to vessel and pier fires in New York Harbor? What is the history of coordination between these agencies in responding to marine disasters? What is the present status of oil and hazardous materials transportation and storage in the port? Is the present level of firefighting capability sufficient to meet today's dangers? What will happen in the future when LNG and other exotic cargoes are routinely transferred and stored in New York Harbor?
The hearings today will demonstrate that we are courting disaster in the Port of New York. We have seen from recent experience that there is no such thing as a fail-safe system. The Valdez pipeline carrying Alaskan oil was supposed to be fault-proof, yet one of its pumping stations blew up only 10 days ago. The massive blackout of last week was not supposed to recur after the lessons of 1965 had been distilled and applied. Yet it did.
Several severe marine accidents have occurred in recent years in New York Harbor. The facts will show we have been fortunate up until now.
The history of marine safety regulation is replete with twice-told tales of planning and regulation undertaken only after a major disaster with concomitant loss of life.
For example, bridge-to-bridge telephone communication was only required by Federal law after the New York Harbor collision and fire
involving the Texaco Massachusetts and the Alva Cape, a naphtha carrier, in 1956. It took 5 years after the accident for congressional action in this instance.
The Morro Castle and Yarmouth Castle disasters on the high seas have their counterparts in the Hanseatic and Sea Witch/Esso Brussels conflagrations in New York Harbor in recent years.
There is evolving a tale of two entities that these hearings will demonstrate. The first of these tales involves the Port of New York. The port is one of the largest and best natural deepwater harbors in the world, with over 750 miles of shoreline. Twenty-five miles in diameter, it covers 1,500 square miles in area. It serves a population of 12 million people in the immediate area, but impacts the entire Nation. It is the busiest port in the United States, with 7,832 ship calls in 1975, half again as many as its nearest competition.
The Port of New York has some of the most modern and efficient marine terminals in the world, These facilities handled 63 million long tons of cargo and 1 million containers in 1974, with an estimated value of $27 billion.
Oil and its products are the port's major ocean-borne commodity by tonnage. These products are stored in oil company terminals, utilities, airports, boat yards, marinas, and other facilities along the waterways. The total storage capacity in the Port of New York is a staggering 4 billion gallons. Petroleum and other hazardous substances constitute the port's greatest hazard, reflecting the double-edged nature of energy, the sine qua non of our society.
The most serious vessel fires that the New York City Fire Department has had to cope with in its history have involved oil tankers, with corresponding large losses of life. The waterways of New York are not confined to the movement of cargo and petroleum products. Two hundred thousand passengers a year pass through the new $40 million terminal at piers 88–92. Twenty-three million people per year are moved during the daily rush hour by passenger ferry.
A new tide of special hazards is swelling, such as the storage and movement of liquefied energy gases, such as LPG and LNG. The combined capacity of these tankers calling from the East River to Staten Island is 32 million cubic feet. New liquid bulk carriers are larger, faster, and with swifter turn-around times compared to their predecessors. Larger oil tankers are now lightering inside the outer harbor to smaller feeder tankers, carrying imported crude oil to waiting terminals.
The second tale barely needs retelling. New York City's fiscal crisis is legend. Cutbacks in municipal services are too extensive to document here. The city's priorities, not unexpectedly, emphasize land firefighting capability. Where formerly 10 fireboats plied New York Harbor, their numbers now have been reduced to 4.
Ports could assume the burden, were it not for the intense competition observed between competing regional ports for container, minibridge and landbridge traffic. A delicate balance exists in the area of port competition. This is a factor which must be recognized before Federal aid to ports can be considered and directed.
Under the New York City Administrative Code, the Marine Division of the New York City Fire Department responds to fires and emergencies involving vessels in the Port of New York or on wharves, piers, warehouses, or other structures adjacent to the port.
With a budget of $5 million a year, the division responds to 200 fires annually, including many of the New Jersey side of the port. The Coast Guard provides backup capability in the event of a marine disaster, but the effectiveness of its present resources is reflected in the order of magnitude difference in pumping capability between a city fireboat and a comparable Coast Guard vessel.
In the recent past, the passenger liner Hanseatic was involved in a pier fire in 1966, resulting in $1
million damage. There were few or no passengers on board at the time of the fire. The Marine Board of Investigation of the Coast Guard commended the 300 New York City firemen who responded to that fire. The final report concluded that the vessel's crew could not have successfully combated the same fire had it occurred while the vessel was underway.
More recently, in June of 1973, the SS Sea Witch struck the anchored tank ship, the SS Esso Brussels, releasing 31,000 barrels of crude oil, most of it on local beaches. Fourteen crew members died, and $23 million in damages resulted from the ensuing fire which engulfed both ships.
By this time, the National Transportation Safety Board had been established in 1966. Its role is to review Coast Guard Marine Investigation Board reports and to issue recommendations to which the Commandant of the Coast Guard must respond with respect to marine safety
Their findings in the Sea Witch/Brussels collisions are worth reviewing:
The collision between (these vessels) demonstrates a lack of coordination and communication among the many and diverse services and firefighting units, particularly during the critical early hours of the disaster. Although the Coast Guard reportedly has prepared an emergency contingency plan in the event of an LNG ship accident, there is no similar plan for major petroleum ship accidents.
The specific recommendation to the Coast Guard to prepare hazardous contingency plans to respond to catastrophic accidents involving oil and hazardous materials was originally made in 1972. The Coast Guard's response was that they utilized "conferences, seminars, and critiques, in lieu of an organized written plan for such emergencies.” The NTSB termed this answer "nonresponsive" to their recommendations.
That same report reached some equally startling conclusions:
1. The loss for the same incident could have been multiplied many times had the collision occurred under different prevailing weather and current conditions. That is, the burning oil might have drifted toward Staten Island, endangering additional anchored ships, lives, and shoreline property. :
2. Vessel speed in New York Harbor is unregulated, except for a regulation pertaining to vessels transiting an anchorage in the vicinity of moored vessels. The NTSB expressed concern over the use of New York Harbor by increasingly larger vessels and the use of general anchorage areas for lightering of deeply loaded tankers.
The warning is signal. In terms of location, substitute the Hanseatic for the Esso Brussels and imagine the results in loss of life.
In the event of multiple fires, taxing the Fire Department's resources, what happens to the small boat yard owner or local marina.
We will receive testimony on this subject later in the hearing.