Far Rockaway has not had the best luck as of late. The area is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, and now a massive, underground gas pipeline is posing a new threat to residents. Al Jazeera America reports that the three-mile Rockaway Delivery Lateral Project will run beneath the popular Jacob Riis Park beaches and the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge. Unfortunately, the pleas of concerned neighbors have done little to halt the construction process.
The project, being built by pipeline specialist Williams, would effectively bring 647,000 dekatherms of natural gas to New York and power 2.5-million homes. While the numbers might sound large, a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission study revealed it would not increase the natural gas flow to the city by much. Instead, the pipeline will merely add a shortcut for the existing system that will run directly between Brooklyn to Queens, rather than passing though Long Island.
Construction of the Rockaway pipeline will add a potentially dangerous gas line running underneath Jacob Riis Park, Fort Tilden, and a nearby golf course. The biggest concern is the 1.6-mile-long section to be installed underneath Jamaica Bay.
Far Rockaway residents are worried about the pipeline because it could burst one day, especially given the high-risk history of underground gas mains. Just last March, an underground gas pipe in East Harlem exploded. In June 2012, another natural gas explosion occurred underneath the High Line and injured two pedestrians.
Those are just two of the reasons Far Rockaway locals don’t want to see the gas pipeline constructed. Many others in the neighborhood also reportedly had no idea the project even existed. In November 2012 Congress enacted the New York Natural Gas Supply Enhancement Act, allowing projects like the Rockaway Delivery Lateral Project to get the federal approval without community consent.
Since construction is moving forward, the neighborhood is just hoping that their protests against the gas pipeline will stir Williams, politicians, and federal regulators into improving the safety of the natural gas project.