Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The Risky Strategy of Emphasizing the Safety Risks of Broadwater

Here's a strategy for stopping Broadwater that I'm willing to bet will continue to get headlines but will ultimately fail: decrying it as a huge safety risk.

From this Newsday story, it sounds as if much of yesterday's hearing in Albany on the Broadwater proposal was spent doing just that: worrying that the proposed LNG terminal, which would be built in the middle of Long Island Sound, nine miles from the closest onshore building, would be an unacceptable risk.

At the hearing, a State Senator from Long Island asked, "Are we building a bomb in the middle of Long Island Sound?" and Kyle Rabin, of Friends of the Bay, suggested that the terminal would be a target for terrorists.

I'm skeptical because I think it will be easy enough for Broadwater and the energy industry to convince the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that the terminal wouldn't be that dangerous. That, after all, is what the Sandia study says, and whether anyone on Long Island blieves it or not, the feds are going to believe it. Common sense indicates that an explosion nine miles from anyone is not as big a deal as an explosion near a residential area. And as for terrorists, there would seem to be other targets that might be more attractive that an LNG terminal in the middle of the Sound.

I don't want the Broadwater terminal to be built. The waters of Long Island Sound are publicly-owned. The Sound is only now recovering from 200 years of industrialization and over-development, and the last thing we should be doing is turning the middle of the Sound into an industrial site.

But Broadwater is not the Shoreham nuclear plant and it's not Indian Point (Kyle Rabin, remember, joined Friends of the Bay after working on Riverkeeper's incendiary anti-Indian Point program), and to suggest that it is might be self-defeating.

Newsday, by the way, has gathered past stories into a special online section about Broadwater.


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