Monday, December 27, 2004

This Just in On the Broadwater Proposal...

One of Sphere's vast team of correspondents sent in this report on the Broadwater proposal from the December meeting of the Long Islannd Sound Study's Citizens Advisory Committee. It's wry and well-written, and I'd be happy to identify him/her if he/she gives me permission:

"The LISS CAC had a presentation from the Broadwater Group on the proposed LNG facility in the Sound at the December quarterly meeting. Leah Lopez was also invited as a balance.

"They presented the facility as, “One of over 200 worldwide facilities,” and, “Based on proven technology.” However, when directly asked, “How many of the existing transfer facilities are barge based?”, the answer was “None.” Also, though the technology is based on North Sea oil platforms, they discounted an Atlantic site as having too many weather issues.

"In a discussion of taking a large portion of the central Sound out of recreational and commercial usage, they would not take direct responsibility, stating that, “The Coast Guard will set the size of the restricted area.” This zone could be up to a mile and a half, or a three mile radius. Given that the current shipping channel is about a mile and a half from the proposed location, this is probably the maximum. In terms of terrorism, this sort of works if the Coast Guard has the manpower to patrol 24/7, you discount wild cards like adrift barges or drunken captains, and the fact that you could stand on the shoreline of either CT or NY with a long-range shoulder-mounted rocket launcher and take the thing out without having to get your feet wet. In the event of an explosion, anything within a two miles will sustain third degree burns.

"On the bright side, it would create the first, if involuntary, LIS marine sanctuary.

"When asked about the impact of possible spills, they insisted that, “The gas is lighter than air and will evaporate.” They didn’t tell us how long it would take to dissipate, or if nearby boaters would find themselves trying to breathe without benefit of oxygen. When pressed about impact to the water, they stated that, “The gas is cold, so there would be some chilling.” This is the understatement of the year. If super-cooled gas is released, their barge would be sitting on top of an iceberg in no time flat, the central Sound temperature would plummet and the impact would be transferred through tidal currents to all portions of the Sound within hours. Not quite “The Day After”, but nasty and hard to predict.

"When asked about the current attempts to have all regulatory powers controlled by FERC, they said that they, “welcomed local input and were not in favor of this legislation.” Someone should tell their parent corporations.

"When asked why the current plan, calling for a 25 mile pipeline to connect with the existing cross sound line was preferred to a clearly shorter connection path, it was mentioned that it would make things simpler. Simpler apparently means staying out of CT waters and regulatory jurisdiction.

"The facility is also not going to replace older, dirtier technology, only add to the supply. Are there numerous possibilities for disaster? Yes. Are we being used as guinea pigs? You betcha. Would this facility allow us to go on acting like there is no limit to energy consumption? For a while. Will it improve air or water quality? No. But the bottom line is that the NYC metro market is such a big juicy plum that someone will try and pick it."


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