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Lawmakers Call for Independent Risk Assessment of Pipeline

Lawmakers want an outside agency to do the risk assessment of a natural gas pipeline expansion project. Credit: Ian Beeby/freeimages.com
Lawmakers want an outside agency to do the risk assessment of a natural gas pipeline expansion project. Credit: Ian Beeby/freeimages.com
August 26, 2015

NEW YORK - Two New York lawmakers are calling for an independent risk assessment of a natural-gas pipeline near the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County.

Assemblywoman Sandra Galef, D-Ossining, and Assemblyman David Buchwald, D-Mount Kisco, said pipeline experts have found flaws in the analysis used by federal regulators who signed off on expanding Spectra Energy's Algonquin Pipeline. Galef insisted that the expansion project be suspended while a new assessment by an outside agency is performed.

"When the NRC did their analysis as to whether there was any risk, we felt - many of us - that they had taken the opinion of an individual company that was hired by Entergy to look at the safety issues," she said. "So, it wasn't really independent."

Galef said the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Nuclear Regulatory Commission are too close to the companies that would benefit from pipeline construction. But the NRC said it reviewed Entergy's safety analysis as Indian Point's owner, as well as its own findings, and determined that the pipeline poses no risk to the power plant.

A major opposition movement has grown around the pipeline, and these latest concerns are part of a long list, including air pollution and construction impacts. But Jonathan Lesser, president of the energy consulting firm Continental Economics, said halting pipeline construction or taking the nuclear plant offline could have economic consequences.

"From an economic-impact standpoint, shutting Indian Point down, higher electric prices are going to lead to less employment as firms shrink, move out of state looking for states with lower-priced electricity," he said.

Lesser said he thinks the ripple effect of those higher prices could cost the state more than $2 billion a year in output. The new section of the Algonquin Pipeline is part of a multi-state project to bring more gas to New England. Current completion date is November 2016.

The website of the expansion opposition is sape2016.org. Spectra Energy background about Algonquin Pipeline is at spectraenergy.com.

Nia Hamm, Public News Service - NY