2012-03-02 / Columnists

It’s My Turn

Here We Go Again
By Joan Mettler

Within the last decade, Rockaway has been bamboozled by LIPA and National Grid (which I have renamed National Greed). A decade or more ago, the MGP toxic waste site between Beach 112- Beach 108 and Beach Channel Drive belonged to LILCO. LILCO wanted to increase the size of the switching station that was located on the corner of BCD and Beach 108 Street. However, they could not dig on the MGP site due to the toxins in the ground. Suddenly, it was determined the land on the corner of BCD and Beach 112 was ‘clean’ and could be dug into and used for the larger station. How this land could be clean when the inground carcinogens had already migrated across the street to the Exxon Station and under Waldbaum’s, is curious. Yet, with the approval of the DEC, LIPA built its station; but, not before I forced Audrey Pheffer to hold neighborhood meetings to inform Rockawayites as to the intricacies and ramifications of the excavation.

Soon after this DEC ‘government sanctioned’ project, the MGP site came into the hands of National Grid. Grid announced it was cleaning up the toxic waste site by removing 8 feet of soil when the toxins measured as deep as 123 feet. The DEC thought 8 was enough and would give Greed a clean bill of health when the work was completed. Even locals recognize that the high and low tide of the bay would undermine the site causing remaining toxins to rise to the top. Prior to this project taking off, I phoned Audrey P. to ask her when the public meetings regarding the cleaning of the MGP site were scheduled. Jo Ann, her assistant, said there were none. But, meetings were hastily formed and held extracting half truths and blatant lies from Greed from how the toxic waste, once removed, would be transported, to the tent built to withstand 100 mph winds, to an air monitor system that seldom functioned, to each truckload of toxic waste sometimes being covered to prevent toxic soil from becoming airborne filling the lungs of children in our community. That Greed and Poscilico trucking ‘did not know’ the weight limit of the MPBridge when they proposed the number of trucks removing the waste from the site through our community necessitating twice as many trucks as the original proposal and twice as much time, was also a blatant lie turned into an ‘oops’ by Nat Greed.

The latest Dump on Rockaway Project is the return of the natural gas pipeline that was rejected last year. Having just spoken to Rep. Turner’s assistant,

Bob Capano, I am in mourning for our community as the gas pipeline, once rejected by Governors Christie and Cuomo, is alive and well and headed for our backyard. Recently passed by the House and only a vote away from full speed ahead in the Senate, our pipeline is right around the corner. Don’t worry, Spokesman Capano said, “it was discussed and agreed with by Turner, Schumer, Meeks, Bloomberg and will be put to a vote in the Senate shortly.” “It is part of Bloomberg’s energy plan.” The need for additional natural gas in Rockaway was attributable to the Arverne building boom. Yet, at no time have we read about a scarcity of natural gas in the Rockaways. If the scarcity is in Rockaway, then why is the pipeline being extended into Brooklyn? By the way, Brooklyn has had more than one meeting to inform its residents as to the future of the pipeline. Where are Rockaway’s meetings? Purposely leaving Rockaway out of the loop seems more an error of commission than of omission.

According to Spokesman Capano, Rockaway will have its meetings, but, after the Senate votes to give its consent. My comment to him was, “If the meetings are scheduled after it is pronounced a done deal, then why have them at all?” Why has Brooklyn had meetings in regard to the pipeline and Rockaway not?

In case you are wondering what information I am seeking on behalf of Rockaway in regard to the pipeline, allow me to inform:

Where is the gas that will eventually be filling the Rockaway section of the pipeline coming from? What route will it take? How deep in the ground will it go? How will it traverse the Bay?

Will Nat Greed be constructing a platform thirteen miles out to sea through which the gas will pass? How will this affect our beaches, wildlife and water?

What plan does Greed have to drill across our peninsula? Will silica, a known carcinogen, be used to drill through the rocks under the bay as was used when Aviator’s sewer system was hooked up to the Rockaway plant?

Have there been negative impact studies with regard to this line traversing a community? What is the worst case scenario that we can expect if there is a gas leak or, perish the thought, an explosion?

Why don’t residents have any say in what could result in us living atop a bomb?

Why were we left out of the loop?

Why are politicians content with holding pipeline meetings after it has been voted by Congress rather than before?

If this program creates jobs but winds up affecting the health and safety of Rockaway citizens, will it be evaluated as worthwhile?

If there is an explosion on this pipeline won’t it not only take out the MPBridge, but also isolate Breezy Point and kill a number of Rockaway residents.

How will storms affect the pipeline?

Won’t the pipeline be a target for terrorists? The gasoline pipeline that traverses Cross Bay Boulevard en route to JFK. was guarded for years by a single policeman in a vehicle parked on the west side of CBB for fear of sabotage. Can we expect protection along the pipeline in Riis Park in perpetuity?

By not including the community in decisions regarding their safety and welfare, Rep. Turner has lost sight of the reasons for representative politics. With greed sweeping the political landscape it can only be surmised that certain promises to politicians that signed on to this pipeline were possibly made by Nat Greed. That they have been persuaded to accept what last year was a danger to our community and that of the shoreline of New Jersey underscores the fact that we are sacrificial lambs. Isn’t it odd that in winter when the peninsula is at its lowest population and least likely to respond to political scandal, Nat Greed and its array of agreeable politicians seem to be trying to pull a fast one on our community? Are you shocked? Don’t be.

That the project will create jobs, the question would have to be, “At what price for Rockawayites?” That David Ushery of Channel 4 News (Sunday 2/12) told his audience that the pipeline stood to impact just a small number of people in the New York community hurt. At the completion of this project west-enders will be living on top of a bomb, uncomfortable at the thought we will only be an explosion away from obliteration. Nat Greed and our politicians have some “’splaining to do.”

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