PLEASE COMMENT ON YOUR SAFETY CONCERNS ABOUT THE ROCKAWAY LATERAL PIPELINE!
The gas industry intends to surround us with an expanding network of shale gas pipelines to bring fracked gas to markets here and overseas. One of these is the Rockaway Pipeline, a 26-inch high-pressure pipeline to be built by Williams Transco and National Grid. It will be trenched into the ocean floor, run under the sand of Riis Park Beach, cross below the Rockaway Inlet adjacent to Jamaica Bay, and continue up Flatbush Avenue to a Metering & Regulation facility (M&R Station) to be built in two historic hangars at Floyd Bennett Field.
The impacts and risks are many: local environmental effects from both the construction process and the normal operation of the project, and the risk of catastrophic failure, accidental or intentional. This pipeline will greatly encourage the expansion of fracking with all its attendant environmental ills, and it will bring more fracked (and possibly very radioactive) gas from the Marcellus Shale into our region.
The deadline to fight the Rockaway Pipeline is approaching! The Federal Energy Regulation Commission’s comment period on this project is open until December 9th.
This project is currently under review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which has issued a draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) on the project. It’s important that we send as many meaningful comments to FERC as possible.
Inspired by Sandra Steingraber’s “30 Days of Fracking Regs” we’re providing a guideline each week featuring:
- Instructions on how to submit your comments
- The “Comment topic of the week”
- Link to other talking points you may want to use
1. How to SUBMIT COMMENTS
BE SURE TO INCLUDE THE DOCKET NUMBER, CP13-36-000).
If you want to submit with attachments, or are commenting on behalf of an organization or sending a paper copy, go here for instructions or click on http://www.carpny.org/how-to-submit-comments-on-the-rockaway-delivery-lateral-project/.
PLEASE SCROLL DOWN !!
2. Featured topic of the week: FLOODING AND OTHER SAFETY ISSUES
This week we remember what it was like in the Rockaways, South Brooklyn, Staten Island, the Lower East Side, and Long Island and New Jersey’s shores just a year ago. The effects of Superstorm Sandy were still being felt, as they are to this day in some areas, and in many people’s lives they were intensifying. Some were running out of medications, for others the week of cold was beginning to intensify their suffering, and those who could help were climbing 20 flights of stairs to bring blankets, insulin, baby food and other necessities. The homes that stood were dark. The mold was setting in. And countless people were displaced, some permanently.
As we recall how it was then, we now face the task of commenting on the proposed Rockaway Lateral Pipeline.
Hurricanes and Flooding
The Draft Environmental Impact Statement (dEIS) Section 188.8.131.52 (on Hurricanes) states:
“An analysis by the New York State Emergency Management Office (2005) found that the entire Rockaway Peninsula and much of the Brooklyn-Queens area could be flooded due to Category 3, 4 or 5 hurricanes depending on the direction of prevailing winds at landfall, distance from the eye of the storm, eye wall intensity, and tide level, but the risk of flooding during a major hurricane event is difficult to predict. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change considers it likely that hurricanes will become more intense as a result of climate change and sea level rise, but the total number of storms could decline (Pachauri and Renninger, 2007).”
Question: if the total number of storms declines, but the storms are more destructive, how many storms should we consider an acceptable number if any one of them can cause the damage that Superstorm Sandy wreaked on the Rockaways and South Brooklyn, or even worse levels of destruction?
And what is Transco’s response, which FERC considered sufficiently reassuring that they went ahead with their Draft Environmental Impact Statement, the first step along the road to final approval? Let’s look at this quote from the same document:
“Transco states that the ability to forecast hurricanes several days in advance would allow it to ensure the safety and integrity of its system….
During Superstorm Sandy, the water surged to a height of 14 feet. The M&R station is at an elevation of 16 feet, and the equipment is to be raised above floor level by one foot. Are we satisfied that this is a safe remedy? Does anyone notice the year of the ‘recent’ FEMA mapping in this quote from the dEIS in Section 184.108.40.206 (on Flooding)?
According to FERC, “Transco conducted a site-specific land survey of the proposed M&R facility site to determine the elevations of the site relative to FEMA’s designated 100-year floodplain (i.e., the area with a1 percent proposed probability of flooding in a given year). The survey determined that the lowest floor elevation inside the proposed M&R facility is approximately 2.9 feet above the 100-year floodplain delineated in the recent ABE mapping (FEMA, 2012b).”
Leaks and Explosion
The pressure entering that M&R facility will be tremendous. The gas would come into the Rockaway Pipeline from the Lower New York Bay pipeline (running along the coast) at up to 960 pounds per square inch. The regulator’s job is to lower that pressure.
But according to the president of the New England Gas Workers Association: “Water can cause the regulator to be stuck open completely, in the wide open position … If that happens, it dramatically increases the pressure and it can cause serious problems down the line. If gas is coming into a home or a business at a much higher pressure than it’s supposed to, it can cause a fire or even an explosion. In addition, prolonged exposure to water can contribute to accelerated corrosion of the regulators, causing gas leaks that could trigger an explosion or fire.”
And firemen tell us that in Floyd Bennett Field, many of the hydrants don’t work and others have insufficient water pressure to respond to such a conflagration.
Given the record thus far of this company, how confident do we feel that they can guarantee our safety? Here is a list of some of the 35 reportable accidents they have had since 2006:
- Appomattox, VA, September 2008 – pipeline fails, blowing a fireball that scorched an area 1,125 feet in diameter, leveling two homes and injuring 5 people and damaging 100 homes.
- Alabama, 2011 – pipeline ruptures, shooting flames 100 feet into the air for 90 minutes after the pipeline was shut off; the explosion is heard more than 30 miles away.
- Springfield Township, PA, March 2012 – explosion blows hole in roof of compressor station, shakes homes a half mile away.
- Ellicott City, MD, July 2013 – Natural gas pipeline explodes, witnesses describe the sound as that of a jet plane landing on the roof. Fortunately nobody was injured.
The Barrier Peninsula
Finally, if the job of the M&R station is to meter and then regulate the enormous pressure in the pipeline, what is being done to protect the people of the Rockaways, where the gas is coming in full force, in a place where the sea floor was upheaved high onto the land and the boardwalk was tossed against buildings like so many sticks? How safe can a high-pressure pipeline be on a barrier peninsula already shown to be so vulnerable to extreme weather?
3. Other TALKING POINTS
Please see the post below for our suggested talking points concerning the likelihood of construction at the beach this spring and summer, the segmentation of parts of this project to avoid federal review, potential impacts on protected species and commercial fisheries, the dredging up of long-buried toxins, whether we need this gas, the effects of more fossil fuel development on our climate, and how this pipeline and others will lock us in to more fracking rather than helping us transition to renewable energy. Thank you.