Artificial island could devastate New York’s only natural reef

September 29, 2009 at 5:50 pm Leave a comment

Dubbed ‘insanity island’ protesters are campaigning against the Atlantic Sea Island Group’s proposal to build a mega liquefied natural gas facility off the coast of New York and New Jersey

 A controversial proposal for an industrial complex to import liquefied natural gas (LNG) 13 miles off the coast of Long Beach, New York and 19 miles from Sea Bright, New Jersey, is being strongly opposed by outraged organisations and individuals.

Atlantic Sea Island Group (ASIG) plans to build the massive 86-acre artificial island for the sole purpose of offloading, storing and processing LNG.

Standing at 25 feet above sea level, the structure would be visible on the horizon from several popular beaches in the area. The private investor consortium has no prior experience of LNG operations or offshore construction and has been battling veto power for almost two years.

Clean Ocean Action, a New Jersey based coalition of 125 groups aiming to stop coastal pollution and Surfrider Foundation, non-profit grassroots organization with 50,000 international members in the USA are spearheading the fight against this proposal.

Murky water

The construction of the ironically-named ‘Safe Harbor Energy’, which is awaiting federal approval, could smother up to 140 acres of sea floor and destroy the prime fishing and diving grounds of Cholera Bank, part of the only naturally-occurring reef system in the area.

Endangered species and aquatic habitats may suffer irreversible damage as a result of the dumping of 16 million tons of material required for the project construction.

In addition, billions of gallons of seawater are expected to be used and displaced for ballast, destroying marine life and presenting a risk of invasive species introduction.

The LNG lifecycle of extraction, cooling to liquid form at -259°F, transportation from overseas, then heating to gas form can cause up to 40 percent more greenhouse gas emissions than domestic natural gas.

Impacts

The consensus amongst protestors is that this is a move in the wrong direction away from renewable energy technologies and could result in an increased use and dependence on foreign fossil fuels, while current port facilities and supplies are under-utilised.

ASIG argues that the project will bring much-needed employment and energy resources to the area.

The expected quantity of almost 500 ships each year, some of which could be nearly four football fields in length, requires an exclusion zone of over 600 acres and poses a significant risk of navigational spill hazards.

Over 25 miles of new sub-sea pipeline would be needed for the ‘insanity island’, causing further negative environmental impact and disruption.

According to Clean Ocean Action, New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine and New York Governor David Paterson still have official veto power to stop the project going ahead, despite legal action from ASIG.

Clean Ocean Action is therefore targeting these Governors by sponsoring an online petition to fight this contentious proposal. Sign the petition here.

Kate Herbert is as freelance journalist

The Ecologist

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

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