Critics: No pipeline until Floyd Bennett Field pumps are repaired

Critics: No pipeline until Floyd Bennett Field pumps are repaired
Photo by Steve Solomonson

Dead fire hydrants at Floyd Bennett Field will make it impossible for the Fire Department to put out a conflagration caused by a proposed gas pipeline there, say frustrated park-goers who want the federal government to kill the controversial plan to run a fuel line under the protected green space.

Williams Company — which brings natural gas to the New York and New Jersey area from the Gulf of Mexico — is seeking congressional approval to lease two hangers and dig up parts of Floyd Bennett Field so it can run a pipe that will tap into a major gas supply line off the Rockaway Peninsula.

But nature lovers who flock to the historic airstrip claim that nearly half of the park’s fire hydrants haven’t worked for years, and that could make it difficult to put out a fire.

“It does not appear that there are adequate resources to deal with the potential for fires caused by introducing a massive gas line into this area,” resident Alice Zinnes wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently.

The National Parks Service, which oversees Floyd Bennett Field and Gateway National Recreation Area, admitted that nothing has been done to repair the broken hydrants since the New York Post reported about their condition last year.

“In terms of the fire hydrants, nothing has changed,” said National Parks Service spokesman John Warren.

Yet renewable energy advocates from the Sane Energy Project, which opposes gas pipelines crisscrossing the nation, said the fire hydrants must be fixed before the feds even consider Williams Company’s proposal.

“Floyd Bennett Field has a history of fires, including brush fires,” Claire Donohue, a member of the Sane Energy Project, said. “Hydrants there are relatively few, and many of the existing ones have been problematic.”

Williams Companies reps will need an act of Congress and approval from the Federal Energy Commission to lay their pipeline. So far, the House of Representatives has given its approval. The Senate is expected to make its decision in the next few weeks.