Sunday, January 22, 2006

Over the Weekend: Fallen White Ash, Bad News from New Haven, Greenwich Beaches, Petitioning FERC

Suburbia … Just when we were about out of wood for the fireplace, last week’s storms came along and took down the tops of two white ash trees that had probably been weakened by whatever blight is killing white ashes. That gave me something to do this weekend between chauffeuring my daughter around northern Westchester – three round trips of a total of maybe 60 miles in two days and nights. I use a tiny Remington electric chain saw – the big gas-powered saws are way too scary – and so it took some time to work my way through the big trunks. To make matters worse, the chain loosened and fell off after a couple of hours on Saturday. To get it back on properly I had to take the thing apart and reconnect the adjustment block, or something. After about an hour of squinting at the small dark inner recesses of the saw, and blowing my stack in frustration once or twice, I managed to get it reassembled, quite accidentally but correctly nonetheless. Unfortunately I neglected to tighten one of the nuts that holds the saw bar in place. Also unfortunately I didn’t realize this until I was cutting through a thick piece of trunk and the chain came off again. The nut was gone, lost in the dead leaves and sawdust. I happened to have another one of the same size, though, and with slightly greater skill this time I took it apart, replaced it, adjusted it, and finished cutting up the trees in time for a late afternoon game of Wiffle ball with my son, who is not quite 8. He hit a two-run homer and a grand slam in the last inning to break a 3-3 tie and win 10-3.

Bad weekend in New Haven … Two sewer lines collapsed on Friday, forcing city workers to pump raw sewage into Morris Creek, a tributary of the Sound, according to the New Haven Register. This is the same area, you’ll remember, where 12 million gallons of sewage spilled last spring. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal bloviated about it at the time and said the state would investigate, which I’m fairly sure it never did. No enforcement or disciplinary action came out of the 12 million gallon spill, so I’d be surprised if anything came out of this one either.

Then yesterday, a single-hull barge spilled about 4,000 gallons of gasoline into New Haven Harbor, according to the Register. Gasoline is flammable, of course, but a gasoline spill is less bad environmentally than a spill of home heating oil, which is heavier, and a winter spill is less bad than a spring or summer spill, when there is much more life in the water.

Will Greenwich welcome out-of-towners to its beaches? … I mentioned the other day that the parks commission in Greenwich has recommended cutting the beach fee for pedestrians and bikers to $1 instead of $10. This prompted a Sphere reader named Alex to comment about how convenient it is to put a bike on the train, get off at Old Greenwich, and ride to Greenwich Point. He wrote:

The updated rules make a lot of sense and I'm very happy about them -- they make the access easier in-season without destroying the laid-back atmosphere of Old Greenwich.

Unfortunately the Greenwich Time reported the other day that residents are less than thrilled with the proposed fee cut. Making it cheaper will only encourage “those people” to put their toes in the rarefied Greenwich sands.

Bryan Brown, who follows the Broadwater issue far more closely than I do, commented to a recent post that he sent FERC a request months ago to view LNG terminal plans. Thus far, no reply. Let him know if you’ve had the same experience. He says:

In case anyone from FERC is reading this, if/when I ever get access to the information, I intend to honor my commitment to adhere to FERC's limitations on disclosure.

I can only assume though that if Bryan finds something in the plans that makes him think the LNG terminal will be unsafe, he’ll feel free to say so publicly.


Blogger Sam said...

Well jeez, folks, a LNG facility is about as dangerous as you can get, which is why you keep them at least 5-10 miles away from communities. One accidential LNG fire in Japan gave people sunburns five miles away. A spill involving liquid methane at minus 300 degrees would freeze everything on contact. I mean come on, folks, people who refuel LNG buses have to wear full safety gear with NOMEX and asbestos-like insulation. They look like space monkeys.

Mr. Pat Woods was the FERC executive for a while, a nice guy from Texas. I don't know who is there now. My thinking was that Woods was told to approve all LNG terminals, maybe by Cheney's staff, and then I think he tendered his resignation after a while, in frustration (and a private job that paid real money).

I don't blame him.

12:31 AM  
Anonymous Robert said...

I am also an urban forester but, I don't limit my harvest to my own property because my woodlot, in the middle of the Village of Mamaroneck, is quite small and and most of the excellent hardwoods fall on other people's property. Also, because I operate two Coalbrookdale stoves to heat the barn in which I reside, I need plenty of wood.

Lately, Nature indeed has been generous. Over the weekend I harvested a downed maple and ash in Orienta. Of course I always ask permission to take the wood. It is usually already cut in usable lengths and only requires splitting, which I do by hand. (Wood 'heats twice'.)

Amazingly, at one of my stops this weekend, workman who were rehabilitating the interior of the home came out and assisted me. They brought out a chain saw to reduce the size of the pieces and they watched over the wood as I made several trips back and forth. I was courteous and made sure they would be able to wet their whistles with a cold one after work, but I remain astonished at their generosity.

On chain saws; when I need one I always use gas and I always rent.


11:25 AM  

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