Blogs > Docket > Riverkeeper appeals AIM Pipeline approval because of overwhelming risk to Indian Point

Riverkeeper appeals AIM Pipeline approval because of overwhelming risk to Indian Point

Photo: Indian Point, Leah Rae / Riverkeeper

Photo: Indian Point, Leah Rae / Riverkeeper

Riverkeeper and a coalition of groups is urging a federal court to stop the construction of the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline before high volumes of fracked natural gas start flowing through the pipeline located in close proximity to the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant.

The groups seek to immediately stop the final steps of pipeline construction and its use. The lawsuit challenging project approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is currently pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The challenged pipeline is the first of three large segments of the Algonquin pipeline expansion (AIM, Atlantic Bridge, and Access Northeast) that are intended to bring fracked natural gas from the Mid-Atlantic region to New England. Riverkeeper is joined by groups including Food & Water Watch, the Sierra Club Lower Hudson, Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), the Reynolds Hills Community and other environmental and community activists in this appeal.

The federal approval of the high volume gas pipeline close to Indian Point accepted a faulty analysis done by the plant owner (Entergy) and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In papers filed with the Court, Riverkeeper’s noted nuclear safety and pipeline safety experts detail how the analysis greatly underestimated the blast radius of a pipeline explosion and, without justification, significantly downplayed the likelihood of a pipeline rupture. The chilling analysis shows how the explosion would engulf the entire Indian Point nuclear power plant site.

If the AIM pipeline explodes, Indian Point will go with it. FERC has a legal responsibility to protect public safety by requiring an independent engineering analysis of the catastrophic safety risks of placing a pipeline next to a nuclear power plant.

Federal law requires a thorough look at the consequences to our community of the failure of a gas pipeline next to Indian Point. In this case it simply was not done, and we intend to hold the project and the federal agency accountable for a failure that could have dramatic consequences for New York City and the Hudson Valley.

The motion filed by the coalition is also based on new evidence that the company approved by FERC to analyze the project’s impacts on the environment has a financial conflict of interest. Specifically, the reviewing company has a financial incentive to approve the pipeline because it would get business from the next two phases of the proposed pipeline buildout. The record shows that the proposal marketed the three projects as one from the beginning.

For years, many organizations and governmental officials have been demanding that FERC cease rubber-stamping pipeline projects without adequate environmental and safety analyses. Specifically, with regard to AIM, the Senators of New York and Massachusetts, the Governor of New York, Congressional Representatives, New York State legislators, and local officials have recently called on FERC to stop the AIM project until there has been an independent analysis of the risk to public safety and an investigation of the contractor’s conflict of interest. Yet, FERC has refused to do either.

You can read the motion at this link. The supporting exhibits are available upon request.

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