Brooklyn environmentalists protest proposed Rockaway pipeline

Brooklyn environmentalists protest proposed Rockaway pipeline
Put that in your pipe: Members of the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline lined Flatbush Avenue in protest of the proposed natural gas pipeline that the Williams Company wants to bury under Floyd Bennett Field.
Photo by Erik McGregor

A coalition of gardeners and environmentalists protested the Rockaway Delivery Lateral, a proposed natural gas pipeline to run along Flatbush Avenue that they claim would definitely harm local wildlife and possibly cause a catastrophic explosion.

The demonstrators lined Flatbush Avenue on Sunday with signs displaying facts about the pipeline and its accompanying metering station that they hope will persuade the public to join their crusade against its construction. If the pipeline is built it will carry highly explosive, pressurized natural gas.

“Most people don’t know about this. People don’t know that these things could explode as they’re driving past,” said JK Canepa, a member of the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline. “One of the reasons we were out there was to give the public information, so their voices can be taken into account.”

The protest took place the same day that National Grid, a supplier of electricity and natural gas, was laying pipes that would connect to the Rockaway pipeline, in anticipation of what many consider to be a done deal.

The protestors, however, considered it a great photo opportunity.

“We had a great turnout, and the gas company gave us a real show,” said Canepa. “It was the most amazing coincidence that we were there for the burial of the pipe.”

The protestors had camped overnight at Floyd Bennett Field, where the Floyd Bennett community garden, a plot of land set aside for locals to grow fruits and vegetables, is located. The old air field is also the home to Hangars One and Two, where Transco-Williams, a natural gas supplier and operator of the proposed Rockaway pipeline, hopes to install metering and regulatory stations.

The proximity of the gardens and proposed metering station marks one of the biggest concerns regarding the pipeline project. Some members of Floyd Bennett Garden Association, a group of 500 gardeners who utilize the community garden, and other environmentalists, are concerned that methane, which they fear the nearby metering station will vent, could create a noxious environment for their placid, outdoorsy hobby, as well as obliterate the local fowl population, according to gardener Lois Pinetree.

The metering station could also explode, obliterating the local gardener population as well, said Pinetree, though she was not speaking for the association.

“The station is going to be totally unmanned, and if something goes wrong you will have to call someone in Texas,” said Pinetree.

The Floyd Bennett Garden Association, however, has not taken a position on the pipeline or the metering station, according to association president Adriann Musson, and did not endorse the coalition’s protest.

Munson said that in a meeting last year with Transco-Williams, the association was told that no methane would be vented from the metering station.

At this point, the Federal Energy Regulator Commission is one of the final roadblocks Transco-Williams must overcome before it can start laying pipes. The commission is expected to release a draft of its environmental impact statement for the project before the end of the month.

After the draft is released, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the project before the federal agency decides on whether to approve it. The Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline hopes its protests will mobilize resistance to the project.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4514.

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