Wednesday, August 7, 2013

New NYC Pipeline Comes With Potential Health Risks

New York City, NY- The Spectra Pipeline is a 16 mile-long high-pressure natural gas pipeline that will deliver 800 million cubic feet of hydrofracked gas to New York City a day. The pipeline is predicted to be complete by November of 2013 and has sparked much controversy.

OccupyThePipeline, a grassroots nonprofit organization, produced a video earlier this year about the dangers associated with this new pipeline. They point out the health risks associated with radon exposure and potential explosions. Check out the video here:


Radon is a colorless, tasteless, odorless gas that has been shown to cause cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "Radon comes from the natural (radioactive) breakdown of uranium in soil, rock and water and gets into the air you breathe" and is the second most common cause of lung cancer next to smoking cigarettes. Although radon decays quickly, having a half-life of about 3.8 days, Spectra will be bringing natural gas to New York apartments faster, increasing the risk of radon exposure. Activists argue that poor ventilation systems in small New York City apartments may increase the health risk associated with the pipeline.

Supporters of the pipeline, however, argue that the amount of radon present would pose no real health risk to New York City residents. When asked about radon exposure, Spectra stated, "the sample analyses clearly show that the radon levels in the natural gas are low and will cause no significant health risk."

The Spectra Pipeline would enter Manhattan in the West Village
OccupyThePipeline also points out that high-pressure pipelines are liable to explode. Spectra's parent company, Duke Energy, experienced an explosion in an underground facility in Texas in 2004, causing a 1,000-foot high fireball and the evacuation of hundreds of residents within a 3-mile radius. The explosion was caused by a faulty valve and led to another explosion and evacuation.

The Sane Energy Project is working with New York State Assembly member Linda Rosenthal to pass a bill requiring Con Edison and National Grid to monitor radon levels periodically. This legislation would also require the pipeline to shut down if radon levels get too high. The Sane Energy Product plans to test radon levels in homes in the 5 boroughs this upcoming winter.

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