John Feal of the Fealgood Foundation, a 9/11 advocacy group best known for its involvement with the Zadroga Act, travelled to Minisink NY this weekend to give support to a community of 9/11 first responders as they battle, Millennium Pipeline, a subsidiary of NiSource NI, over a proposal to build a natural gas compressor station in their rural residential community.
The project is under the jurisdiction of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission,(FERC), which recently issued approvals allowing construction to begin.
Minisink, in Orange county New York is commonly referred to as the Town of Guns’ and Hoses’, because of the large number of NYPD and FDNY residents. It lies in the outer limits of permissible residency requirements for NYC employees hence the large number of police officers and firefighters, among them many 9/11 first responders.
“I have to go every month for testing at Mount Sinai” said Nick Russo, a retired NYPD officer and 9/11 first responder, who lives close to the project and suffers from 9/11 related respiratory illnesses; “I am very worried about what this will do to my health”.
The gas compressor station is permitted to emit 61,000 tons of pollutants each year including many known carcinogens and neurotoxins.
Members of the community held a rally in front of the project site and invited Feal along with NY Congresswoman Nan Hayworth so they could see the impact this project will have on residents.
Representative Hayworth attended the rally to meet with residents and listen to their concerns. She visited with the Baum family, who live across the street from the site with their 4 young children.
“I am here to be your voice”, Hayworth said as she addressed the group.
Carolyn Petschler, a veteran of the U.S. navy and an organizer of the event said, “This does not belong in the middle of a residential neighborhood with 200 families within half a mile; anyone who visits can see that it shouldn’t be here”.
Hayworth promised the community that she will reach out to Senators Gillibrand and Schumer to make a joint appeal to FERC to issue an immediate decision on the communities rehearing request.
Organizers invited Schumer and Gillibrand to attend as well, but both responded that they were unavailable.
Meanwhile Millennium is moving rapidly to complete construction. Residents fear that if politicians don’t act fast, any efforts may be too little too late.
In a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Feal reminded the Commission of the health risks of first responders and wrote “though we cannot recover lives lost, we can do everything possible to protect the survivors”.