and Joe Maniscalco
Three new gas processing plants built off the coast of Coney Island could blow the entire borough off the face of the earth, environmental watchdogs are warning.
In a worst-case scenario, “It would blow with the force of 55 atomic bombs,” said Ida Sanoff, chair of the Natural Resources Protective Association.
Three separate companies — Exxon, Excalibur Energy and Atlantic Sea Island Group — want to build offshore gas processing plants (possibly on man-made islands) known as Liquefied Natural Gas facilities, off the shores of New York and New Jersey. The closest would be approximately 20 miles off Brooklyn’s shore.
A spokesman for Exxon confirmed they were looking into the area.
“We’re still conducting research and study,” said Exxon spokesman Patrick McGinn.
Although permits have not been granted and the facilities face an alphabet soup of state and federal agency approvals, watchdog groups aren’t wasting any time trying to torpedo the projects.
“It would affect a very sensitive area in our Atlantic Ocean,” said Noreen Benjaminsen, outreach coordinator for Clean Ocean Action, a coalition of 125 environmental and community groups working to protect waterways.
In addition to threatening Brooklyn, critics fear the facilities will pollute the ocean, kill marine life and omit foul odors.
“There are other ways people can have clean, affordable energy,” said Debbie Mans, executive director of the New York and New Jersey Baykeeper, which opposes LNG facilities.
McGinn sees it differently.
“LNG has a very strong safety record, operating for many decades all over the world,” he said.
Tankers, ranging from 700 to 1,000 feet in length, deliver chilled gas to LNG facilities, where it is heated and returned to a gas state. It is then pumped via an underwater pipeline to a site on shore where it is sold wholesale to domestic buyers, according to McGinn.
Plans for LNG facilities have already been defeated in Long Island, Florida and California.
Representatives for Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Paterson did not respond for comment. But the state’s “Energy Plan” released last December notes, “The state should take specific steps to encourage investment in natural gas infrastructure, including LNG facilities.”
Community Board 13, which represents Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Homecrest and Sea Gate, passed a resolution opposing the creation of any LNG facilities off Coney Island’s coast. The resolution will be sent to elected officials, including Paterson and Bloomberg.
“We’ve had our fair share of resolutions that have been basically ignored,” said board Chair Marion Cleaver. “But it would be nice if they listened to the community.”