The proposed placement of new natural gas pipelines from Williams and National Grid. (Source: Williams)

The Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line Company (TRANSCO), recently issued a required document in which they addressed concerns about the proposed Rockaway Delivery Lateral Project, commonly known as the Jamaica Bay natural gas pipeline.

Those disturbed by the project, which involves the development of a natural gas pipeline through Jamiaca Bay and Floyd Bennett Field, submitted arguments opposing its approval through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) between May 25 and June 25. These concerns were reviewed by Transco, who responded to them in the government-mandated document on July 9.

Transco claims the Rockaway Lateral Project will provide a new channel for natural gas, increasing its use in residences in New York City. This is meant to help improve air quality by replacing the systems that use fuel oil to heat residences.

But a Sheepshead Bites review of comments submitted reveals that many local activists and individuals believe this project will produce more harm than good. Approximately 60 comments from individuals and organizations representing thousands of people were put forward during this brief scoping period, virtually unanimous in their opposition for reasons relating to safety, environmental risks and health.

In response, Transco replied to some concerns thoroughly, while others were glossed over or overlooked.

 

HEALTH CONCERNS

The most extensive reply Transco delivered addressed worries about the source of the natural gas for the pipeline and the potential for cancer-causing radon to infiltrate the gas, which will be transmitted to homes from the pipeline.

Critics say that the pipeline will deliver high levels of gas containing radioactive radon to many kitchens, for the pipeline will serve as the source of gas for New York City appliances and boilers.

“Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers,” wrote Trish Gough and several others.

Transco’s response to this concern was by far the most thorough in the document. They stated that the pipeline will use natural gas to replace fuel oil in heating many homes in New York City, which will thereby improve the local air quality and health of the residents. Furthermore, they said that the risks relating to radon exposure are unknown, but expected to be minor.

“Poor air quality directly contributes to health risks and mortality on a greater scale than any alleged risks posed by radon,” Transco said in their statement.

 

SAFETY AND FIRE RISKS

One of the most frequently-cited problems submitted by residents to FERC is about potential leaks and explosions that could develop from the pipeline.

“Nationwide, pipeline accidents result in, on average, three deaths per week, and injuries and burns more than once a week,” wrote Claire Donohue of the Sane Energy Project, an organization with 3,694 supporters.

Donohue and others feel that placing a pipeline in its proposed location, adjacent to an urban area, shopping mall, and buildings, is inappropriate. In the case of an explosion, they believe that buildings will blow up, and many will die.

In response, Transco said the pipeline will undergo periodic safety inspection and maintenance. Leak surveys on the pipe will be performed, and an internal computerized inspection device known as a “smart pig” will examine the condition of the pipe.

Many also pointed out that Floyd Bennett Field is prone to fires, made riskier due to reports of malfunctioning fire hydrants at the park. A gas pipeline and metering station placed in a fire-prone area is poor planning, critics told FERC.

“It does not appear that there are adequate resources to deal with the potential for fires caused by introducing a massive gas line into this area,” wrote one critic.

Transco feels that this is not a legitimate concern.

“The Transco pipeline is continuously monitored 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through its Gas Control center in Houston,” they wrote.

Transco stated that fires produced by the pipeline can be easily stopped by simply closing the gas source. They believe that no special firefighting unit is required to stop a natural gas fire.

This response is not likely to put residents at ease. They have asserted that the fact that the pipeline is controlled in Texas is an issue, for if a problem closing the pipeline arises, the distance between the controls and the line will create a huge disaster.

Several neighbors stated that the pipeline would put the neighborhood in danger, serving as a potential target of a terrorist attack. Transco did not reply to this concern.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS

Transco did not provide as robust a response to concerns regarding the potential offshore impacts of the pipeline, its effects on fish and wildlife, the use of the area for non-recreational purposes (which conflicts with the Gateway Management Plan), and land use impacts.

The pipeline’s potential effect on the wetlands, fish, and wildlife of the area raised concerns from representatives from several environmental organizations. They stated that the metals used in the pipeline and the machines used for its construction could harm the wildlife in the area. Additionally, potential explosions could kill marine life, damage the wetlands, and destroy bird sanctuaries.

According to Transco, the project will not harm the wetlands, and it is designed to avoid animal habitats near the shore. They are now coordinating with New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and other agencies to determine the potential effect on species of fish and wildlife, especially those that are endangered, they wrote.

Whether or not this pipeline will become a reality remains unknown. Are the concerns discusses real and serious? If so, can Transco adequately address them and construct the pipeline safely?

A full and detailed list of the concerns addressed by Transco can be viewed on FERC’s website through this link or the documents below.

Here is a compilation of comments submitted to FERC from May 25 to June 25:

Transco Comments

Here is Transco Williams’ response to those comments:

Transco Response

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  • Tc

    “risks relating to radon exposure are unknown, but expected to be minor.”
    it’s like saying we will deal with the consequence if it does happen so don’t worry about it. of course you don’t have to worry since you don’t live around here!

  • Tinman

    Unless they put the pipeline under the BP’s and mayor’s offices, let’s put a stop to this, which has all the earmarks of a potential disaster.

  • nolastname

    Think of the bright side. If it blows in Jamaica Bay the goose will be cooked.
    Bloomberg really maneuvered this one in there didn’t he. Fooling the public is his forte. I have deep hatred for that weasel, I wonder who is profiting from this and what his connections are.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      Natural gas is the profit centre of the future. As oil supplies diminish the push to develop new sources and expand delivery channels will increase. And many people will feel that they have no choice but to accept this. We still have the possibility of developing safe and viable alternative fuels, other countries are doing so with great success. In this country, we sell out our future to vested interests.

      • nolastname

        Someone has oil, just not us. Do we still have a reserve? 
        We are going to frack ourselves but good.

      • http://twitter.com/mikeyhorse Mike


        safe and viable alternative fuels” could you please name them and the countries doing so.

  • Alex

    Don’t worry. Go see a Broadway show. If it blows, Manhattan is safe miles away. 

  • Whwsailboat

    Meanwhile the NPS is asking for input for their 5 year management plan that assumes the hanger the GAS PUMPING STATION can become tourist attraction and possible museum. http://www.nps.gov/gate/parkmgmt/gmp-2012.htm

  • Kool4Coney

     I would like to see a gigantic billboard erected that says

    “Welcome to
    the future home of yet another toxic superfund site.. brought to you by
    Transcom and Micheal Bloomberg”

    Why should we take anything Transcon says as fact?  Transcon is blowing smoke up our (ahem) …  What I would really like to know is if this is already a DONE DEAL (like cementing the boardwalk) and the ‘question and answer’ period is just KABUKI THEATER and totally ‘fer show’

    The pipeline is clearly a health and safety risk, transcon has no good answers for the concerns and we are being told ‘there is little chance of harm or fire or cancer or spills or pollution..etc” and then “if it happens it can easily be fixed, stopped, repaired…etc etc etc” 

    isn’t that the same thing the good people of the Gulf heard from British Petroleum before that deep water well blew up…  isn’t that what the Japanese People believed before that tsunami destroyed Fukishima…  how many more times will profit be put before people??

    TranscoN gave no good or concrete answers to our concerns because there ARE no good or concrete answers other than this “things that can go wrong usually do”

    so I want to know if this is already a done deal or we can actually STOP
    this from moving forward and put Floyd Bennett and the waterways
    surrounding it to good use enhancing our area instead of destroying
    it…

    • nolastname

      Sailboat put up a link. It’s a done deal.
      The link looks and sounds good. But I feel it’s just a cube of sugar in front of this old mare. Eye candy to young’uns. 
      The only possibility of any reversal is in Mother Natures hands. And I might add, she’s been mighty angry lately.

  • http://twitter.com/mikeyhorse Mike

    Lots of trash talk and not a single solution offered. Typical.

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