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Foes say Cape Wind hid oil report

A report prepared by Cape Wind consultants made public this week by the Minerals Management Service concluded that if a major spill did occur at the project's electrical service platform - which would hold up to 40,000 gallons of lubricating oil - there's a greater than 90 percent chance the oil would reach the shoreline. Based on oil flow and tide studies of Nantucket Sound, consultants from Applied Science Associates in Narragansett, R.I. found that the south shore of the Cape and eastern shore of Martha's Vineyard would likely face the biggest danger and that in extreme conditions, the oil could reach land in less than five hours.

Cliff Carroll can debate Cape Wind with the best of them.

But with all the huffing and puffing surrounding the wind farm controversy, Carroll also plays the role of tactician.

By his own account, the work he's done with the British Ministry of Defence on the effect wind turbines might have on military radar systems helped prompt a closer look by federal officials here into the issue. Their final report could be released in the next few months, according to a U.S. Department of Defense spokesman.

Another concern that Carroll, a local mortgage broker and founder of Windstop.org, has pursued aggressively is the impact an oil spill at the wind farm's transformer station would have on the coastlines of the Cape and Islands.

A report prepared by Cape Wind consultants made public this week by the Minerals Management Service concluded that if a major spill did occur at the project's electrical service platform - which would hold up to 40,000 gallons of lubricating oil - there's a greater than 90 percent chance the oil would reach the shoreline.

Based on oil flow and tide studies of Nantucket Sound, consultants from Applied Science Associates in Narragansett, R.I. found that the south shore of the Cape and eastern shore of Martha's Vineyard would likely face the biggest danger and that in extreme conditions, the oil could reach land in less than five hours.

''This... [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Cliff Carroll can debate Cape Wind with the best of them.

But with all the huffing and puffing surrounding the wind farm controversy, Carroll also plays the role of tactician.

By his own account, the work he's done with the British Ministry of Defence on the effect wind turbines might have on military radar systems helped prompt a closer look by federal officials here into the issue. Their final report could be released in the next few months, according to a U.S. Department of Defense spokesman.

Another concern that Carroll, a local mortgage broker and founder of Windstop.org, has pursued aggressively is the impact an oil spill at the wind farm's transformer station would have on the coastlines of the Cape and Islands.

A report prepared by Cape Wind consultants made public this week by the Minerals Management Service concluded that if a major spill did occur at the project's electrical service platform - which would hold up to 40,000 gallons of lubricating oil - there's a greater than 90 percent chance the oil would reach the shoreline.

Based on oil flow and tide studies of Nantucket Sound, consultants from Applied Science Associates in Narragansett, R.I. found that the south shore of the Cape and eastern shore of Martha's Vineyard would likely face the biggest danger and that in extreme conditions, the oil could reach land in less than five hours.

''This is an unacceptable risk,'' said Carroll, who also questioned why it took so long for Cape Wind to release the study and the developer's unwillingness to specify the type of oil that would be used in the transformer station.

The electricity generated by the 130-turbine wind farm would pass through the station, which would stand 100 feet above Nantucket Sound, before two cables transmitted the power to a West Yarmouth landfall.

''This is the mother lode of this industrial complex,'' said Ernie Corrigan, a spokesman for the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, a local group working to kill the renewable energy proposal. ''It is the beating heart of the industrial complex that's going to sit in the middle of Nantucket Sound.''

In 2004, Carroll lobbied the nine ocean-facing towns on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket to send letters asking the federal government to request more information from Cape Wind about oil spill trajectories, as well as an oil spill response plan.

The 32-page report has been filed by Cape Wind with Minerals Management Services, a division of the Department of the Interior now overseeing the multi-agency Cape Wind review.

Mark Rodgers, a Cape Wind spokesman, said last week the possibility of an oil spill is a legitimate concern.

Still, he cautioned blowing the report's findings out of proportion.

''It's one of many factors that needs to be considered,'' Rodgers said. ''But I'm concerned that opponents are trying to use this to scare the public.''

The transformer station, Rodgers said, would include a triple containment system and the oil, which is used as a coolant, would be of low toxicity, somewhere between a vegetable oil and a petroleum-based, highly refined oil.

Asked why he couldn't be more specific, Rodgers said Cape Wind developer Jim Gordon has not hired the subcontractor yet that would oversee the transformer station.

As for keeping the report from the public, Rodgers scoffed. ''The public has access to more information and technical analysis for the Cape Wind project than they have had for any electric generating plant ever built in New England,'' he said.

What's more, he added, one of the few options for local electricity generation is the fossil-fuel-burning Mirant Canal power plant in Sandwich, which requires regular shipments of oil.

And, as in the case of the 2003 Buzzards Bay disaster that spilled nearly 100,000 gallons of No. 6 fuel oil into local waters, such shipments present a risk.

Rodgers' defense did little to appease Carroll. ''Any oil is a hazardous material once it enters into the aquatic environment,'' he said. ''They're picking and choosing what they want to show the public.''

The Minerals Management Service expects to issue a draft environmental report for Cape Wind this winter, which the public can comment on, before releasing a final report and decision in 2007.

David Schoetz can be reached at dschoetz@capecodonline.com.

 


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SEP 4 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/4361-foes-say-cape-wind-hid-oil-report
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