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Fears over offshore projects

The trend of companies proposing offshore energy facilities around Long Island makes Robert Weltner anxious.

The trend of companies proposing offshore energy facilities around Long Island makes Robert Weltner anxious.

Over the past three years, Weltner, president of Operation SPLASH, a nonprofit Freeport group that promotes clean waterways, has watched with growing unease as plans were announced for the Broadwater liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound and, in the Atlantic Ocean, a wind turbine park and another LNG terminal.

"It's going to be like an industrial area out there," said the diver and former mate on a commercial fishing boat. "

Many of those who make their living on the water or use it for recreation, as well as environmentalists, have concerns about the implications of each project. And they worry about the cumulative impact of placing these kinds of facilities off the shores of a heavily populated region.

"We have concerns about the abuse of the marine environment for commercial endeavors," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "We have to look at each one individually. However, it's very clear that the marine environment is being looked at as real estate."

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The trend of companies proposing offshore energy facilities around Long Island makes Robert Weltner anxious.

Over the past three years, Weltner, president of Operation SPLASH, a nonprofit Freeport group that promotes clean waterways, has watched with growing unease as plans were announced for the Broadwater liquefied natural gas terminal in Long Island Sound and, in the Atlantic Ocean, a wind turbine park and another LNG terminal.

"It's going to be like an industrial area out there," said the diver and former mate on a commercial fishing boat. "

Many of those who make their living on the water or use it for recreation, as well as environmentalists, have concerns about the implications of each project. And they worry about the cumulative impact of placing these kinds of facilities off the shores of a heavily populated region.

"We have concerns about the abuse of the marine environment for commercial endeavors," said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of the Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment. "We have to look at each one individually. However, it's very clear that the marine environment is being looked at as real estate."

Government officials should develop a master plan for evaluating the combined impact of the projects, she said, "but no one is making one."

Impact on fishermen

John Weber Jr., a vice president of the Freeport Tuna Club who fishes off the South Shore, said, "I'm concerned about anything that will impact on the ability of our club members to navigate around the waters where we fish. I know if they put the windmills and the LNG facility out there, it's going to be an awful lot of area that we're not going to be able to navigate for security and safety reasons."

John Hritcko, a Broadwater senior vice president, asserted that concerns about industrialization are misplaced. "They're making the assumption that there's no use of the waterway other than purely recreation," he said. "Long Island Sound has a very significant commercial aspect to it and always has. About 4,000 commercial vessels traverse the Sound every year. "

Esposito has no problem with the proposed wind farm that would be built by FPL Energy of Florida because "the public will still have access through the entire area. The LNG facilities would be the most intrusive and the most damaging because they require a security zone, and they're massive."

Cooperation appreciated

John German, president of the Long Island Sound Lobstermen's Association, said he's keeping an open mind about the Broadwater LNG terminal because the company has been cooperative with his group.

Although the terminal would affect the area where he and several other lobstermen fish, the company did shift the proposed site a mile to avoid the most productive fishing grounds.

Esposito, on the other hand, said that "Broadwater will completely change the access and use of Long Island Sound." She said that every time a tanker comes in or out of the Sound through the channel known as "The Race," off the end of the North Fork, that waterway will be closed to other traffic. In addition, she said, there will be a security zone of up to 4 square miles around the terminal itself.

Hritcko said The Race in its entirety would not be closed, but security zones would be established around the LNG carriers as they pass through it. "We'll be able to structure it so the ships come through at times when it won't interfere with the fishermen," he said. The size of all security zones would be determined by the Coast Guard.

Environmentally, the bottom of the Sound will be temporarily disrupted during burial of a 22-mile pipeline connecting the terminal to an existing pipeline to the west, he said.

"The only real impact is that it might displace some lobstermen part of the year," Hritcko said. "It should be helpful for the Sound because you'll have this large area that's not going to be traversed by fishermen, so it will be sort of a sanctuary."

Source: http://www.newsday.com/busi...

JAN 31 2006
https://www.windaction.org/posts/1120-fears-over-offshore-projects
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