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Source: Newsday

Hearing on gas terminal off Long Beach draws hundreds


Posted: January 31, 2009
Originally Published: January 30, 2009

A standing-room-only crowd of several hundred surfers, environmentalists, local politicians and residents gathered last night in Long Beach for a federal hearing on a liquid natural gas processing plant proposed for a 60.5-acre man-made island that would be built 13.5 miles south of the city's boardwalk.

Most of the about 50 people who spoke seemed opposed to the project.

Opponents are raising questions about potential damage to air, water and adjacent land during construction and operation and in the event of an accident.

"Building an island in the middle of the ocean is unprecedented, dangerous and unnecessary," said Chris Wade, of Manhattan, chair of the New York City Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.

Frank Crescitelli, chairman of the Fishermen's Conservation Association, said the island would be situated in an important fishing ground, fish migratory path and spawning ground.

"All these fisheries are waning as it is," Crescitelli said.

The terminal is proposed by the Manhattan-based Atlantic Sea Island Group.

It would produce as much as 2 billion cubic feet a day of usable gas delivered to it in liquid form by ships from abroad.

In a paper issued before the hearing, Atlantic Sea Island officials argued that the facility would act as an artificial reef beneficial, not detrimental, to sea life.

"Construction of the island will create a sanctuary for marine life," it said.

The U.S. Maritime Administration would have to approve the project, along with officials in New York and New Jersey, with input from the Coast Guard.

Last night's hearing was to collect information for preparation of an environmental-impact statement.

If the states reject the project, as New York did the Broadwater Energy gas plant proposed for Long Island Sound, Atlantic Sea Island can appeal to the U.S. Department of Commerce, as is Broadwater.

"A major concern is the damage to bottomlands caused by the construction of an island," Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Farmingdale-based Citizens Campaign for the Environment, said in an e-mail.

Last night's hearing was at the Long Beach Public Library.

A similar session held Tuesday night in Eatontown, N.J., drew several hundred.