Local activists and environmental groups called on Governor Andrew Cuomo Sunday to shut down the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline following the release last Friday of a long-awaited Risk Assessment report.
Protestors gathered in Croton-on-Hudson at a fundraiser where Cuomo was scheduled to appear after the multi-agency completed report, which was due more than 18 months ago, confirmed arguments made by opponents that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not sufficiently consider risks and other concerns before allowing the expansion of the pipeline near the Indian Point nuclear power plants in Buchanan.
“For years we have been saying that none of the federal agencies were evaluating all the necessary risks when they granted permits for this pipeline. The Risk Assessment executive summary released on Friday is clear evidence that an independent contractor and four state agencies agree that there are too many unanswered questions to accurately assess the risk of running a high pressure, fracked gas pipeline right by Indian Point. The Governor must stop the flow of gas at least as long as so many questions remain unanswered,” said Amy Rosmarin, co-founder of Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE).
“This Risk Assessment could have been completed and released before the AIM Pipeline construction was finished,” said Tina Volz-Bongar, from Resist Spectra. “Now we are in a situation where gas is flowing through a pipeline for which proper safety determinations were not made. We are calling on the Governor to go to FERC and ask for an immediate stay to halt the gas flow alongside and under Indian Point.”
In February 2016, Cuomo ordered the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services (DHSES), Department of Public Service (DPS), Department of Health (DOH), and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to undertake the Risk Assessment. Last year, construction was completed on the AIM Project, a high-pressure, 42’ inch diameter, fracked gas pipeline that runs under the Hudson River and within 110 feet of safety infrastructure for the aging nuclear plant that is slated to stop operating in 2021.
“While the probability of pipeline incidents is low, the proximity to the Indian Point nuclear plant makes the potential consequences of such an event very significant,” the agencies stated in a press release. “Additional scrutiny and monitoring to better understand and reduce risks associated with the Algonquin pipelines is warranted. FERC must engage in further action to mitigate and investigate potential risks.”
Cuomo did not attend the fundraiser Sunday, but activists spoke with Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, demanding the state act immediately now that it has evidence of the risks posed by the pipeline. Hochul said she wasn’t well versed on the topic and couldn’t speak to the state’s next steps.
“We’ve been pressing the state on this for years. The fact that she was unable to speak to us about this is just more evidence that New York State isn’t doing its due diligence to protect us,” said Peekskill resident Courtney Williams.
By Rick Pezzullo