Plan for gas terminal on island off Rockaway

March 13, 2009 at 3:17 am Leave a comment

The plan to create a gas terminal on a 60-acre man-made island off the Rockaway shore has moved on to environmental studies, now that the federal public comment period has expired.

After public hearings in Eatontown, New Jersey on Friday, January 27 and Long Beach, Long Island on Saturday, January 28, the “scoping” period for the public to send comments to Washington, D.C. was to have expired on February 11, but was extended to Wednesday, March 11.

New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has already determined that the proposed port and sub-sea pipeline may result in significant adverse environmental impacts and that compliance with state law requires preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

Because of the many similarities in requirements, the U.S. Coast Guard and Maritime Administration have agreed to cooperate with DEC to prepare a single document that satisfies both federal and state law.
The location proposed is about 13 miles south of Long Beach, and 19 miles east of Highlands, NJ. Geographically, it would appear to be directly off the Rockaway shore. Federal law requires only one hearing per affected state however, and Long Beach is closer to the site.

Situated in 60 to 70 feet of water, the proposed island with its buffers and pipelines would sit roughly in the middle of the Cholera Bank, a high point in an underwater area that is highly-productive for both commercial and recreational fishing.

The area got its name over a century ago, when ships loaded with immigrants were forced to anchor there under quarantine, if cholera was found among their passengers.

The company proposing the facility, Atlantic Sea Island Group, initially tried to eliminate New Jersey from the process, but was overruled by Commissioner Sean Connaughton of the Federal Maritime Commission. This means that both New Jersey Governor John Corzine and New York Governor David Paterson can wield a veto over the project.

Safe Harbor Energy, the planned deepwater port island, would be built up out of the dredgings cleared from ship channels leading to the Port of New York, and be surrounded by rock and concrete barriers.

As planned, two Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tanker ships, each more than three football fields long, would be able dock there at the same time. The island would have the capacity to store more than 19 million cubic feet of gas and pump it to shore through two 36 inch diameter pipelines.

Clean Ocean Action, a New Jersey environmental group, issued a 72-page report decrying LNG and the facility in September 2008. They are calling for development of domestic sources such as the Marcellus Shale gas deposits which reach under New York City’s watershed, rather than the island project.

Fierce opposition to the project has also come from local groups as the New York City Surfrider Foundation and Jamaica Bay Eco Watchers, who have gained the ear of Representative Anthony Weiner.

Weiner, who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, reportedly promised to ensure “that New York City residents are not ignored in this process.”

BY VICTOR G. MIMONI

The Queens Courier

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Entry filed under: Dive In, Go Coastal, Natural Waterfront, Region. Tags: , , , , , , .

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