Albany, the capital of New York, has long been a port town, in spite of its inland location. The state of New York is not known for its coastline, but with a major port in the big city and the important Port of Albany, the state does play a significant role in the maritime industry. Ships coming into port here must traverse 124 nautical miles up the deep water shipping channel of the Hudson River beginning in New York harbor.
The Port of Albany is not the country’s biggest port, but it does account for more than a thousand jobs and several hundred millions of dollars in annual regional revenue. To work in the port means doing an important job to keep cargo going in and out and being sent out by rail and truck to further points. As with any port the work can be dangerous and accidents are not unheard of, including those that occur in the waterway coming into the port. For maritime workers here, Albany maritime lawyers are ready and waiting to help after an accident and injury on the job.
The Port of Albany
This New York port actually stretches through two cities: Albany and Rensselaer, one on each side of the Hudson River. The area has been a harbor and port for centuries, but the current port was built under Franklin D. Roosevelt in his time as the governor of New York. Building of the modern port began in 1932. Originally it was called the Port of Albany-Rensselaer, but most often is referred to as just the Port of Albany.
The port is 124 nautical miles north of New York Harbor and includes deep water harbors on both sides of the Hudson River, in both Albany and Rensselaer. There are over 5,000 feet of wharf in the port, 350,000 square feet of indoor warehouse space and ten acres of open storage area. The largest grain elevator east of the Mississippi is here, as is the tallest harbor crane in the state. Some of the most common cargo that goes through the port includes grain, cement, molasses, animal feed, wood pulp, steel, and liquid fertilizer. The port also has a cruise ship docked regularly and a permanently-docked ship museum.
Accidents at the Port
Accidents are common at many ports, including Albany. Although this is a smaller port, with less shipping coming and going than some others, there are still daily risks on the job that can cause workers to get injured or even killed. Sometimes accidents don’t hurt anyone, but cause monetary damage or environmental disasters. From ship collisions, to accidents with cranes to cargo spills and truck accidents, incidents can occur at any time and have tragic consequences.
With such a long shipping channel to traverse, it’s no wonder that accidents with ships happen on the way to and from the Port of Albany. One such incident occurred in 2012 when an oil tanker left the port and ran aground on a sandbar in shallow water. Luckily no one was hurt in the incident, although it did slow down traffic for the day, and no oil spilled. The tanker had a double hull and running aground only breached the outer layer. The accident underscores the potential for a major environmental accident and just how difficult it is to navigate a long shipping channel.
Another port accident was not such a lucky or close shave. Three people died in a 2003 incident in which a heavy-lift cargo ship unexpectedly rolled and capsized. The accident happened so suddenly and took everyone by surprise, that workers had little notice and chance to get off the ship. As a result three workers died. They remained trapped in the hold, which flooded. The accident occurred while the ship was docked in its Port of Albany berth and while cargo was being loaded onto it. The ship rolled as a nearly 300-pound generator was being loaded, but no wrongdoing could be found. The accident illustrates just how quickly tragic accidents can happen, even when everyone is doing everything right.
In 1981 one worker was killed and another seriously injured while securing a barge carrying oil to the dock. The two workers were handling ropes to secure the barge. With one already secured, they set to work on the other, but the first one snapped free and struck both of them. They were slammed into concrete pilings and one worker died in the hospital, while the other suffered cuts and internal injuries. Accidents both on the water and in the port can be dangerous and fatal.
Legal Rights and Resources
As a worker in the maritime industry you could be facing any of the accidents listed here and many other possibilities on a daily basis. While some accidents are close calls and people get lucky, others cause serious accidents that keep them from work for weeks or months. Other accidents kill people. You have rights, though. Your employer is entitled to provide you with compensation for things like lost wages and medical bills, but if you are denied, you also have rights under federal maritime law to force the issue and get what you are owed. If you die on the job, your family has the same rights.
To make sure you get the rights you deserve, you may need to file a claim, go through arbitration, or even file a lawsuit or go to trial. Albany maritime lawyers are available and have the expertise you need to help guide you through the process. A lawyer can face your employer for you, file claims, and represent you in an arbitration or court case. Rely on this professional to get you the money you need to get back on your feet.