* Coast Guard says Harbor closure unlikely
* New alert comes eight days after Hurricane Sandy
* East Coast fuel supply chain still strained after Sandy
* High winds, potential storm surge put harbor operations at
By Adam Kerlin
NEW YORK, Nov 7 The U.S. Coast Guard has put New
York Harbor on alert ahead of a nor'easter that could affect
operations at the largest terminal for oil shipments on the East
Coast, a week after Hurricane Sandy forced its closure.
"The danger is not, per se, the rain or snow or sleet," U.S.
Coast Guard spokesman Charles Rowe said. "It is the wind within
our harbor, that's our concern."
While another harbor closure is not expected, Rowe said the
agency will continue to closely monitor conditions throughout
Wednesday and into Thursday.
New York Harbor is the biggest energy port on the U.S.
Eastern Seaboard, with tanks able to hold more than 75 million
barrels of oil.
Some of the largest refineries and terminals supplied by
shipments that come through the harbor are still operating below
capacity as they deal with damages caused by Hurricane Sandy's
Rowe said wind speed is the underlying cause for any actions
taken to secure the harbor, but wind direction and flooding are
also taken into account when deciding whether to restrict harbor
For the captain of the port to have the option of closing
the harbor completely, winds must reach 60 knots, or just under
Winds of 50 mph 43 knots) are forecast for New York City
Wednesday night and could lead to some restrictions on ship
movements, further hampering recovery efforts.
Last week's harbor closure, compounded by power outages,
damages to the terminals and an oil spill, led to energy supply
snags across the region.
In recent days, tankers have been lined up waiting to unload
at the harbor and the northeast region has been attracting extra
shipments of fuel from other U.S. ports.
At least five additional oil tankers moved into the New York
Harbor fuel hub over the last few days as the flow of gasoline,
diesel and other fuels gradually returned to normal eight days
after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in New Jersey.