The following was sent to FuelCell Energy Corp by Linda Prizer on behalf of NBCA. The Board of Trustees met on Saturday 9/10 to respond to FuelEnergy's request that NBCA review and react to their plan to install fuel cells on the URT property.
‘Extra-flammable’ crude oil being stored at Riverhead oil tanks; town officials, first responders kept in the dark
by Denise Civiletti Oct 8, 2015, 7:55 am
An exceptionally volatile new crude oil produced by fracking operations in North Dakota is being stored at United Riverhead Terminal in Northville, RiverheadLOCAL has learned.
The light crude, extracted from the Bakken Shale oil field in North Dakota, which produces more than 1 million barrels per day, is more gaseous, has a much higher vapor pressure than most oils and has a lower flashpoint. That’s what makes it more flammable and combustible than other crudes, according to critics.
Bakken crude has been identified by federal and state regulators as posing “an imminent and substantial” danger to public safety, following explosive rail accidents that killed dozens of people, destroyed dozens of homes and forced the emergency evacuation of hundreds of homes endangered by fires that burned for days.
The incidents prompted the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a safety alert about Bakken last year, which was followed by an alert to first responders issued by the International Association of Fire Chiefs.
Nevertheless, the introduction of Bakken crude at the Riverhead facility in 2014 was unknown to local officials and first responders, including the Riverhead fire marshal, the Riverhead Fire Department chief, the town supervisor and members of the town board, who all said they were unaware that URT began accepting and storing Bakken in Northville until asked about it by RiverheadLOCAL.
Similarly, L.I. environmental activists were in the dark about Bakken being stored in Riverhead.
“This is scary stuff,” said L.I. Pine Barrens executive director Richard Amper, referring to the “extreme volatility” of the Bakken, which he said he’s become familiar with through his work on the board of Environmental Advocates of New York.
“And let’s not forget it’s being stored in a state designated special groundwater protection area,” Amper said.
“What are they thinking?”
Citizens Campaign for the Environment executive director Adrienne Esposito said she found the news “alarming.”
“You don’t want to scare the public but you don’t want to deceive them either. The accident record of this material is quite disturbing,” Esposito said.
“Ignorance isn’t bliss. Ignorance is dangerous.”
A ‘virtual pipeline’
The Bakken crude is off-loaded at the terminal’s deep-water platform in the Long Island Sound, located one mile off the Northville shore, and pumped via pipeline to tanks on United Riverhead’s 286-acre site. It’s stored there until it’s shipped back out the same way — from tank to pipeline to platform, where it’s loaded onto a ship and transported to one of the East Coast refineries.
It does not leave the terminal by truck, according to both the terminal operator and the N.Y. State Department of Environmental Conservation, which confirmed that “there is no over-land transport” of the Bakken on Long Island.
“Storage for it is much in demand,” URT general manager Scott Kamm said in a phone interview last week.
The Bakken is transported by rail from North Dakota to the Port of Albany, where it’s transferred to tankers and barges and shipped down the Hudson River, through New York City to refineries in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware, Kamm said. Some of it is stored at the Riverhead terminal when it can’t be brought directly to a refinery.
The boom in hydraulic fracking crude oil production in North Dakota has billions of gallons of Bakken crude transiting the Hudson River annually, turning it into a ‘virtual pipeline,’ say critics and environmental advocates.
While there have been no accidents resulting in explosions or fires during the marine transport of Bakken, there are very real safety and environmental concerns. These range from the very real potential for catastrophic explosions and fires associated with handling and transporting Bakken, to air emissions of possibly toxic chemicals, and spills that could do severe and perhaps permanent damage to the federally designated L.I. Sound estuary and the region’s drinking water aquifer.
“We get all of our drinking water from beneath our feet,” Amper said. “We don’t need to store contaminants above it. It’s preposterous.”
There have been marine accidents and spills — though none so far in New York. One spill last year shut down 65 miles of the Mississippi River for two days.
The transit of Bakken in the L.I. Sound worries Esposito.
“There are clear signs that the L.I. Sound is recovering,” she said. “One incident with this could be devastating.”
‘Almost like a soda can’
Tanker train waiting to enter the terminal in Albany. Photo: N.Y. Crude Oil Report
Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded to catastrophic rail accidents and the increasing transport of Bakken through New York with executive order 125, signed in January 2014. Cuomo directed five state agencies to immediately conduct a coordinated review of the state’s crude oil incident prevention and response capacity and make recommendations for changes needed to “better prevent and respond to incidents involving the transportation of crude oil and other petroleum products by rail, ship and barge.”
The state agencies — the DEC, the health department, transportation department, the homeland security and emergency services division and the state energy, research and development authority — produced two reports last year in response to the executive order.
“Bakken crude oil is inherently volatile with a flash point and vapor pressure similar to gasoline,” the first report, issued in April 2014, said. “An additional and serious danger is often the amount of dissolved natural gas and volatile organic compounds within the crude. This gas affects the vapor pressure of the crude. When contained in tank cars or other vessels, the vessel itself can become highly pressurized, almost like a soda can,” according to the report. “Materials with high vapor pressures tend to burn more violently because the liquid can change into vapor more readily, feeding a fire.”
The April 2014 report made recommendations to “strengthen the state’s preparedness” and a second report, released in December, updated the governor on progress made so far.
Among the April report’s recommendations was increasing training and drill opportunities. On Nov. 4, 2014, the DEC held tabletop drills with United Riverhead at its Northville terminal, according to the December follow-up report.
Fire marshal: Northville terminal ‘well-equipped’ to store Bakken
The December report said the state has also increased inspections of all facilities handling Bakken.
United Riverhead Terminal is inspected by the U.S. Coast Guard, the federal Department of Homeland Security, the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state DEC, as well as by the Riverhead fire marshal, URT’s general manager Kamm said.
URT was the site of an unannounced drill by the EPA in June, he said.
“They hand you a scenario and you have four hours to deal with it,” Kamm said. “We had no trouble,” he said.
“Minor issues” were noted during a “spill prevention, control and countermeasure” inspection at the Riverhead terminal in May 2014, according to the state’s December crude update. “All but one had been rectified” the report said. It did not provide details on the issue.
It is not clear how much Bakken crude is being stored at the Riverhead terminal. The facility’s license documents are not posted online and are exempt from disclosure under the state’s Freedom of Information Law due to homeland security concerns, according to the DEC.
“The facility is authorized to store Bakken crude oil as well as other heavy/light crude oils in six tanks,” the agency said in an emailed response to questions late last month. “Currently, the facility is actively storing crude oils in 2-3 tanks.” There are 20 tanks at the terminal.
The facility is required to advise DEC of any change in products to be stored there “so that DEC staff can determine if they can safely store and handle the product in accordance with the regulations,” according to the agency. “If so, DEC amends and reissues their license accordingly.”
Riverhead Fire Marshal Craig Zitek said the tanks where volatile petroleum products are stored have foam suppression systems and other safety features to prevent disasters. Also all tanks have containment around them, he said.
While the fire marshal said he was unaware of the Bakken when first asked about it by a reporter late last month, on Oct. 1, he said he’d gone up to the facility after learning about the Bakken storage, performed an inspection and spoken to management there.
“They’re well-equipped to store it,” Zitek said.
Riverhead Fire Chief Joe Raynor was perturbed the department wasn’t notified of the new type of petroleum product being stored there, especially if it comes with increased or different kinds of risks — to the surrounding community and to first responders.
But according to Zitek, “It’s no different than gasoline, it’s less volatile, really.” He said United’s predecessor stored gasoline there for many years.
Air emissions concerns
View of United Riverhead Terminal from L.I. Sound. Photo: Peter Blasl
All major oil storage facilities must obtain air permits from the DEC, which regulates air emissions.
There have been reports of high concentrations of benzene vapors during “lightering” operations — the off-loading of oil from a ship. Benzene, a known human carcinogen, is designated by the EPA as a hazardous air pollutant; its vapors can cause headaches and dizziness.
“[H]uman exposure to benzene may result in increased risk of leukemia, birth defects, pulmonary edema … laryngitis, and bronchitis. Benzene can remain in the air for several days once it is released into the air,” according to documents filed in a lawsuit brought against the DEC last year by Earth Justice.
The suit, still pending in State Supreme Court, seeks to set aside the DEC’s determination that the Albany terminal’s expansion will not have a significant environmental impact and to compel the preparation of an environmental impact statement.
Residents in an apartment complex near the Global Partners Albany terminal are complaining of headaches and dizziness from a “heavy burning odor” coming from the terminal when Bakken is being transferred to ships, according to the lawsuit, filed on behalf of the tenants association, Riverkeeper, the Sierra Club and the Center for Biological Diversity.
Northville Beach is no stranger to odors emanating from the Riverhead terminal, says Northville Beach Civic Association president Neil Krupnick. The neighborhood was plagued by a terrible odor in January, and the revelation that Bakken crude is being stored at URT now has Krupnick wondering if Bakken was to blame. At the time of the odor, which enveloped the shorefront community adjacent to the terminal for more than 36 hours, a tanker was off-loading at the URT platform.
For Krupnick, the incident is an example of regulatory oversight that leaves much to be desired. He said DEC staffers told the civic group members last fall “that they count on URT to do a fair amount of self-regulating.”
But in mid-January, “after noxious fumes were released into the air for well over 12 hours and could be smelled a mile and a half away, URT did nothing to stop it until we contacted the DEC,” Krupnick said.
“That’s not self-regulating; that’s hoping the neighbors don’t notice or say anything.”
Krupnick was unable to reach anyone at the DEC on the evening of Jan. 13, when the odor became “unreal.” He emailed the agency on Jan. 14 and in a return email the same day, a DEC environmental program staff member acknowledged that the operation at the platform was causing the odor.
The DEC said they talked to URT management who “instructed the vessel operator making the delivery to take the necessary steps to reduce/eliminate the odors (i.e. reduce rate of delivery and since it was not necessary, stop heating the petroleum). URT will be monitoring the off-loading to ensure the vessel operator complies with their instructions.”
The odor persisted and after additional complaints to the DEC, the agency made a site visit the following morning, on Jan. 15.
“No odors were detected downwind of the operation at Iron Pier Beach Park or in the nearby area along Sound Shore Rd.,” DEC environmental engineer Shaun Snee wrote in an email to Krupnick.
Yet, Krupnick said, the odor was bad at mid-day and later worsened and spread to a wider area. He again complained to state regulators.
“We would like to know why it’s acceptable for such a large amount of fumes to be released over a 12 hour period and why it takes a neighbor’s complaint to get the facility to notice that it’s polluting the environment?” Krupnick asked.
By then, his wife Ann and others in the area were suffering with headaches, irritated eyes and dizziness.
Government ‘asleep at the switch’
Krupnick, a town board candidate who last year organized opposition to a proposal by United to build ethanol storage tanks in Northville so it could begin storing gasoline and dispensing it at its truck rack there, said he was troubled town officials knew nothing about Bakken being on site.
His sentiment was echoed by his running mate, supervisor candidate Anthony Coates.
“United not telling us there’s Bakken in Riverhead, is like Khrushchev not telling us there were missiles in Cuba,” Coates said. “This is a huge story and this is exactly what’s wrong with Town Hall. Our government is asleep at the switch.”
Supervisor Sean Walter said on Saturday, URT’s failure to notify town officials was “unacceptable” and something he would be looking into. He said the terminal operator is only required to notify the DEC of petroleum products it is handling there.
“The DEC, not the town, regulates bulk storage,” Walter said.
Councilwoman Jodi Giglio said Monday she was disappointed the town was not notified. “That’s very bad,” she said.
Councilman James Wooten said he was not familiar with Bakken crude and would research it.
But Riverhead officials are not alone. There are no federal or state rules requiring public notice when Bakken is brought into or through a community, despite several fiery accidents involving Bakken that killed 47 people.
Local government officials in cities and towns across the country have complained about not being told of shipments into or through their jurisdictions.
Last year the federal transportation department issued an emergency order requiring railroads to alert states about oil trains originating in North Dakota. But rail companies, worried about community backlash and terrorist sabotage, resist providing details.
Is Bakken rail shipment in Long Island’s future?
Aerial view of accident site in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec where a tanker train derailment killed 47 people in July 2013. Photo: N.Y. Crude Oil Report, April 2014
Coates says he’s deeply troubled by United’s access to a rail line at its EPCAL facility and company founder John Catsimatidis’ announcement that he’s planning to build a pipeline linking the Northville terminal with the United Metro terminal in Calverton.
At a Riverhead Town Board meeting in May Catsimatidis said he has plans to build a pipeline connect the Northville terminal and the Calverton biofuel terminal, which United acquired in 2013. He said he also planned “fully connect” the EPCAL rail spur to his Calverton site.
His plans would reduce truck traffic on local roads, Catsimatidis said.
The town supervisor later said he had “suggested that they withdraw the application and resubmit it at a later date with a lot more information.”
“We have no way of knowing what his plans entail,” Coates said of Catsimatidis’ vision for a Long Island pipeline-rail line link.
“Imagine full exchangeability of deadly Bakken by pipeline over our farms and drinking water, then imagine this volatile product going out by rail through our EPCAL subdivision,” Coates said. “One mistake anywhere in the supply chain could cripple Riverhead for years to come. What are they thinking?”
Coates took a special jab at Giglio, the Republican candidate for supervisor this year in a three-way race with Walter, who’s running on the Conservative line, and Coates, a Democrat.
As a permit expediter, Giglio represented Metro Biofuels when it bought and opened the site in the Calverton Enterprise Park, according to the councilwoman’s ethics disclosure report filed with the town clerk.
Coates questions whether Giglio’s “deep business relationship” with Metro continued after its acquisition by United. United was represented in Riverhead by former councilman Victor Prusinowski, who Giglio says took over many of her clients after she was elected councilwoman in 2009.
Giglio said this week she has no business relationship with United.
While there are safety and environmental concerns about Bakken being delivered via the L.I. Sound to United terminal in Northville, Coates said, the dangers of shipping Bakken by rail are well-documented by several deadly accidents and catastrophic fires.
“A few weeks ago a freight train derailed on the New York and Atlantic line to New York.” Coates said. “Imagine if it contained Bakken.”
A DEC spokesperson said last week the agency has had “no discussions or correspondence regarding the installation of a pipeline between the United Riverhead and United Calverton Terminals.”
We are saddened to tell you that Northville neighbor and former NBCA President Donald Edgar passed away on September 2. He will be deeply missed by family, friends and neighbors and we send condolences to his family.
You can make a memorial donation in Don's memory to The Open Door Exchange (a furniture ministry) c/o the Setauket Presbyterian Church, 5 Caroline Ave., East Setauket, NY, 11733
Surrounded by his wife, his daughters, his grandchildren and great grandchildren, Donald Edgar spent some of his final days floating in his pool overlooking the Long Island Sound. These brief floats allowed him to have a few relaxed moments when he could talk with his loved ones and enjoy his home during his final days. Don died September 2, 2015 after a brief bout with cancer.
Donald was the patriarch of a large, loving extended family. He was predeceased by his first wife of 49 years, Pamela Valentine Edgar, and is survived by his wife of 12 years, Delphine Krauss Edgar. In addition, he is survived by his daughter Cynthia Garruba, daughter and son in law Nancy and Jim Winkler, and daughter and son in law Jody and Robert Cook, as well as his step children Mary Alice and John Kelly and Mitch and Monique Krauss. Also surviving is his sister Florence Edgar Conti, and he was predeceased by his sister Claire Edgar Vrooman. His devoted grandchildren include Andrew Winkler, Paul Winkler and his wife Jessica, Christopher Cook and his wife Kyle, Pam Winkler Tew and her husband Jonathan, Jenny Cook, Cathryn Cook, Nancy Rose Garruba and step grandchildren Jeffrey Van Etten, Christina Jane Krauss and Liam Kelly. Great-grandchildren Coleman and Julianna Cook, Ruby Winkler, and Nora Winkler Tew will miss him dearly. Uncle Don was strongly admired by his many nieces and nephews, and he held a special place in his heart for Cheryl, Chris and Cory and their families.
Donald was the son of Scottish immigrants James and Clara Edgar and was born in Brooklyn, graduating from Newtown High School in Elmhurst, Queens. He served in the United States Army as a Staff Sergeant and spent the majority of his career at Kollsman Instrument Corporation, lastly as Director of Space Manufacturing, and received a NASA Apollo Achievement Award for his work on the project that landed the first man on the moon. Don completed a course of study in Production Planning and Management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and later retired as President of Beta Transformer Technologies. In retirement, he founded The Tea Room at Stony Brook.
An original Brooklyn Dodgers fan, Don later became a lifelong avid Mets and Giants fan. He was a founder and past president of the Northville Beach Civic Association, and he was recently photographed as one of the remaining past presidents of that organization. He was an active member of the Setauket Presbyterian Church for 54 years we he served as a Youth Group Advisor, Elder, and Deacon.
For many years Donald divided his time between his home on Northville Beach and his Naples, Florida home. In Naples, he was a member of the Quail Village Country Club where he won many tournaments, as recently as this past spring. Golf was one of his many passions, beginning with his teenage years as a caddy.
Another great passion was beautifying his own and his family’s homes. Don’s most recent deck project was completed 3 weeks ago at his grandson’s house and even more recently, after entering hospice care, he finished up a few railings on the beach stairs with another grandson.
He was a member of the Saint Andrew’s Society of Southwest Florida.
Donald Edgar (1961-1963), Donald Synder (1966-1968), Allan Wicklund,(1982_1990), Nancy Edgar Winkler (1992-1996), Joseph Hoffman Sr. (1998-2004), Mary Yarusso (1996-1998), John Cullen (2009-2014), Neil Krupnick (2014- Present) Courtesy photo: Mike McLaughlin
by RiverheadLOCAL Aug 23, 2015, 7:51 am
The Northville Beach Civic Association celebrated its 60th anniversary last weekend with its Ninth Annual Scholarship Cocktail Party.
The organization awarded scholarships to two area students heading off to college, selected based on their essays about life in Northville.
This year’s first place winner was Katy Rebecca Finn, daughter of Dave and Sandy Gruner. Katy is pursuing her master’s degree in Applied Theatre at C.U.N.Y. The second place winner was Patrick “Trey” Hiers, the godson of Charles D. Walters II. Patrick is attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and plans to double major in computer science and entrepreneurship.
The civic association raises scholarship money through raffles held at the party. In addition, the Riverhead Lions Club makes a generous donation to the scholarship fund every year, according to a press release from the organization.
The Northville Beach Civic Association also celebrated its 60th Anniversary at the party and gathered seven past presidents and the current president for a historic photo portrait taken by Northville Beach resident and award-winning photographer Mike McLaughlin.
Past president Donald Edgar (1961-1963) is the last surviving NBCA founder. The other presidents are:
Donald Synder (1966-1968)
Allan Wicklund (1982_1990)
Nancy Edgar Winkler (1992-1996)
Joseph Hoffman Sr. (1998-2004)
Mary Yarusso (1996-1998)
John Cullen (2009-2014)
Neil Krupnick (2014- Present)
According to the minutes from the NBCA’s first meeting, the Northville Beach Civic Association was organized in 1955 to “promote the residential and recreational facilities of the Northville Beaches” as well as “exercise, promote, and protect the privileges and interests of Northville in the Town of Riverhead, NY; to foster a healthy interest in the civic affairs of the community; and to develop good citizenship.”
Katie Blasl Jul 29, 2015, 5:54 pm
The possibility of 84-foot-long double-trailer trucks barreling down local roads was an issue of concern among community leaders yesterday, but a representative of Congressman Lee Zeldin assured them last night that Zeldin would do whatever he could to stop it.
“There is no way we would support that,” Mark Woolley, Zeldin’s district director, told the meeting of civic association leaders when they asked him about the bill. “You all know where the Congressman stands on that.”
But Zeldin did support the bill that would allow such trucks on the East End. When it went before the House of Representatives last month, Zeldin voted “yes” in a narrow 216-210 vote.
Woolley, when confronted with this information by a reporter after last night’s meeting, refused to answer any additional questions.
“You’ll have to call the communications director,” he said.
The bill would allow trucks like this 82-foot-long tanker on roads in the national highway system, which includes parts of Sound Avenue, Route 25 and the Long Island Expressway.
The bill in question is part of a special class of legislation called appropriations bills, which are passed annually to approve spending on things like education, national defense and agriculture.
This particular appropriations bill approves funding for the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) agencies in the 2016 fiscal year, which begins in October.
But it also contains many unrelated pieces of legislation, such as the controversial provision that increases the permitted length of twin-tractor trailers by almost 20 feet and overrides preexisting length limits set by 39 states, including New York.
The bill would allow multi-trailer trucks up to 84 feet long on roads in the federal national highway system network, which includes a route through the East End.
If the bill passes the Senate, tandem tractor-trailers up to 84 feet long would be allowed to travel from the Long Island Expressway to Route 58, where they would turn left onto Northville Turnpike and head toward Sound Avenue. The trucks would then make a right-hand turn from Northville Turnpike onto Sound Avenue and head east until Sound Avenue becomes Route 48 and eventually turns into Route 25.
The national highway system route continues east all the way to Orient Point.
“If there was a separate vote on the trucking proposal, I would have voted no,” Zeldin said in an email this afternoon. “Every single budget proposal I have been presented with during my four years in the New York State Senate and now in the United States Congress has included something I wished wasn’t in the bill.”
He pointed out that the bill included his own amendment to prevent the Federal Aviation Administration from taking action against East Hampton Town for its recent enactment of noise restrictions.
“So if I voted no, then you could be reaching out to me asking why I voted against [that],” Zeldin said. “Instead of 535 members of Congress, if you and I were the only ones who got to write the entire federal budget, I am very confident it would look very differently and would be nearly perfectly to our liking.”
Thirty-one Republicans departed from the Republican party line to vote against the bill last month, several of which had their own amendments struck from the bill. Zeldin was not one of them.
“That’s how Congress works,” said Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter. “Sometimes, they attach unpalatable provisions onto bills that must be passed.”
Even though the bill will override current state limits on truck length, it does allow states to request exemptions for segments of roads affected by the bill if they aren’t capable of safely accommodating trucks of that size. States could formally apply for such exemptions to the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, which would review the request and perform an analysis to see if it is justified.
“We would absolutely get on top of the state to seek an exemption,” said Walter.
Zeldin did not respond to a question about why his district director publicly assured community leaders yesterday that their congressman did not support the bill.
“It’s unconscionable to have a representative from a congressional office lie to the public,” said Angela DeVito, president of the Jamesport/South Jamesport Civic Association. “This raises the question of the veracity of what comes out of Lee Zeldin’s office in the future.
“Are we all going to spend time doing fact-checking every time he claims he’s doing something?” she said. “That’s just sad.”
“[Woolley] was very, very clear that they were going to help us,” said Neil Krupnick, president of the Northville Civic Association. “Lee put in an amendment for the FAA, but he didn’t put in an amendment for the trucks. He decided to pick his battles. But I’m disappointed that Mark said he supports our efforts when he’s picking his battles and not getting on board with this one.”
When Mike Foley, president of Sound Park Heights Civic Association, was told by a reporter that Zeldin voted for the bill, he burst out laughing.
“A new congressman has apparently learned very quickly that flip-flopping is the way of doing business in Washington,” Foley said. “It seems like [Woolley] was sitting there listening and trying to figure out the best thing to say. Which is something I really despise about politicians.”
“Even if he was backed into a corner and there was no way a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote would get what you wanted to accomplish, his representative should have explained that to us,” DeVito said. “He should have told us the truth.”
by Katie Blasl Jul 27, 2015, 9:12 pm
Extra-long trucks with double trailers could soon be riding on local roads like Sound Avenue, Northville Turnpike and Route 58, thanks to a proposed federal transportation bill.
The bill, which has already made it through the House and is being considered by the Senate, would allow multi-trailer trucks up to 84 feet long on roads in the federal national highway system network.
New York State currently bans trucks more than 65 feet long on its roads, but the proposed federal bill would override state law, allowing trucks more than 80 feet long to ride on state highways across the country.
That’s about the size of an eight-story building turned on its side, according to U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, who announced today he will do everything in his power to block the provision.
The double tractor-trailers would be allowed to travel on National Highway System roads, which include a route through Riverhead. Tandem tractor-trailers up to 84 feet long would travel from the Long Island Expressway to Route 58, where they would turn left onto Northville Turnpike and head toward Sound Avenue.
The trucks would then make a right-hand turn from Northville Turnpike onto Sound Avenue and head east until Sound Avenue becomes Route 48 and eventually turns into Route 25. The national highway system route continues east all the way to Orient Point.
“We have older roads here, and a lot of them aren’t built to handle that kind of traffic, the weight and size of the truck,” Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski said tonight. “As much as I like Queens, we don’t want to let our towns turn into Queens. If we have to address this at the county level I’m sure we’ll have a lot of support to limit the size of the trucks.”
Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said the length increase would be “catastrophic,” not only in terms of impacts to town road infrastructure but also in terms of public safety.
“There’s no way a truck that size could make the right turn onto Sound Avenue from Northville Turnpike without entering the oncoming lane,” Walter said. “It’s dangerous.”
There is also the matter of keeping the trucks off town roads and making sure they stick to the route designated by the national highway system.
Although the proposed federal bill doesn’t explicitly give the double tractor-trailers permission to drive on roads other than those in the national highway system, Riverhead Town only prohibits trucks from driving on a handful of town roads. That could become a major issue with larger multi-trailer trucks in town.
In May, the Riverhead Town Board said they were considering a “truck route” to require large trucks to use only certain roads after dozens of residents packed a public hearing complaining about truck traffic. The town board had just recently voiced their opposition to any federal measure that would increase the length or weight of tractor-trailer in a May 5 resolution.
But town board action on a designated truck route anytime soon is unlikely, according to Dunleavy.
“The problem is that we have a lot of local people, farmers and growers, that use tractor-trailers,” said Dunleavy, who is chairman of the town board’s traffic safety committee. “We don’t want legislation to hurt our local people. We already restricted them from going up Mill Road. If we restrict them much more, you’re going to put local people out of business. It’s taking us time to think of what we’re going to do.”
With the possibility of significantly larger tractor-trailers driving through town, however, Dunleavy acknowledged that the issue is even more pressing.
But tonight Walter questioned whether the town could ban tractor-trailers from roads that are part of the federally designated national highway system, which includes the route on Northville Turnpike and Sound Avenue.
The proposed federal bill would permit twin 33-foot trucks on the National Highway System (see map), increased from the 28-foot trailers currently allowed. Combined with the length of the truck’s cab and the section connecting the two trailers, double trucks under the new law could be 84 feet long.
“The fact of the matter is, these longer, double-hitched tractor-trailers are a tremendous road safety risk to people and infrastructure alike,” Schumer said in his announcement today.
He pointed out that larger trucks require larger stopping distances of about 20 additional feet, and that longer trailers make merging and passing “very difficult” for other drivers on the road.
The larger trucks permitted by the proposed federal bill would increase the turning radius for trucks even further – by an additional six feet, according to Schumer.
Multi-trailer trucks are also more deadly: A study by the U.S. Department of Transportation found that multi-trailer trucks had an 11 percent higher fatal crash rate than single-trailer trucks.
Truck traffic on the North Fork has been a topic of heated debate recently. Just a few months ago, local residents successfully fought a regional proposal that called for diverting some 3,000 tractor-trailers per year from Connecticut highways to Long Island via the Orient Point ferry. That plan was eventually scrapped by the N.Y. Metropolitan Transportation Council.
Note: NBCA member Sandy Gruner is very active in this church. Donations can be made here: gofundme
The big white steeple of the First Congregational Church has towered over East Main Street for more than a century. It is a town-designated landmark that houses generations of memories of weddings and holidays. It houses the only soup kitchen in Riverhead, serving warm meals to the needy three nights every week.
But the church’s roof nearly collapsed last month. The historic building’s east wall was never reinforced to handle the weight from the roof, so after years of pressure, the wall began pressing outward. The roof’s support system started to crumble under the weight.
And it would have come caving down into the sanctuary, causing unimaginable damage to the church’s interior, if a construction crew had not gotten there in time. The very same day that Calverton-based RC Construction finished building emergency wooden support towers to prevent a total collapse, the 25-foot ceiling of the church came down and rested on the towers.
“We basically avoided a complete [roof] failure by just a day,” said Ron Blake, the church’s chairman of building and grounds. “We would have lost the whole building.”
The sanctuary has now been transformed into a construction zone. Dust hangs in the light cast by the huge stained glass windows as hammers bang and power tools whir. The four wooden support towers are the only things keeping the historic building standing.
“We avoided what could have been a total catastrophe,” said James Wooten, trustee chairman of the church.
The cost of stabilizing and restoring the church’s roof will be more than $400,000. Additional repairs and restoration efforts will cost an additional $100,000. “We’re looking at more than $500,000 worth of work here,” Blake said. “That’s a lot of money for a congregation with about 70 active members.”
The church is seeking the community’s support to help keep one of downtown Riverhead’s landmark buildings standing.
“We’re hoping that the people around us will rally to support us,” said Reverend Sean Murray, “so that we can stand strong as a beacon of hope so that people can continue to find what they truly need here.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up for online donations. Murray says the church is planning to organize additional fundraisers to drum up the money for the repairs.
“We know we’re making a difference here,” he said. “We’re feeding the hungry. We’re giving hope to the hopeless. This has been a place of recovery and renewal. This has been a place of spiritual welfare for so many.”
by Chris Lisinski | 06/16/2015 6:00 AM
In 2012, the Federal Aviation Administration pledged to not take negative action against East Hampton Town with regard to the enactment of noise restrictions at its airport.
Now, three years later, Congressman Lee Zeldin has taken steps to assure the agency keeps its word.
A funding bill passed June 9 by the House of Representatives includes an amendment written by Mr. Zeldin (R-Shirley) to ensure that the FAA does not use any new funds to take action against East Hampton Town following its recent efforts to restrict helicopter access.
“This amendment will hold the FAA to its word on this critical local issue, a local issue that should have a local solution that brings all sides to the table to improve quality of life on the East End this high season,” Mr. Zeldin said in remarks before the House transportation, housing and urban development subcommittee.
The bill allocates $55.3 billion in discretionary spending for 2016, $15.9 billion of which will be included in the FAA budget. With Mr. Zeldin’s amendment, the FAA cannot use any of these funds for an “administrative or civil action” against the town.
The FAA wrote to former Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) in 2012, stating that the town could set its own restrictions for East Hampton Airport without federal approval, but Mr. Zeldin said in recent months, they have wavered on that promise.
“Many of my constituents are finding themselves bewildered by actions of the FAA,” he said in his June 9 remarks. “Federal agencies ought to stand by their word and keep their commitments to members of Congress and the citizens we represent.”
Helicopter-noise regulations continue to be a hot-button issue on the East End. In April, the East Hampton Town Board passed a bill curtailing aircraft usage at the East Hampton Airport after years of complaints and arguments from both sides of the Peconic.
That legislation put in place the following rules:
• A mandatory closure at the airport every night from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
• An extended ban on “noisy” aircraft from 8 p.m. to 9 a.m.
• A limitation on noisy aircraft to one trip, including a single takeoff and landing per craft per week during the peak summer season.
However, the legislation has yet to take effect due to pending litigation. In April, aviation groups filed a federal lawsuit against East Hampton Town claiming that the regulations are unlawful.
In May, the town acquiesced to U.S. District Court Judge Joanna Seybert’s request to defer implementation of the regulations until a decision is reached. Judge Seybert originally planned to decide by June 8, but has since changed the deadline to June 26, according to various news reports.
Opinions remain divided on exactly what the FAA’s involvement should be. While Mr. Zeldin has stressed that local governments must hold the primary decision-making power, he asked the FAA in March to get more involved with reducing helicopter noise on the East End.
A representative for Friends of the East Hampton Airport, an aviation advocacy group and one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit against the town, criticized Mr. Zeldin’s amendment to the budget bill, which has not yet been approved in the Senate.
“The bill is unfortunate and we do not believe it will ever become law,” said Loren Riegelhaupt, a spokesperson for the group.
In its lawsuit, Friends of the East Hampton Airport argued that the FAA must oversee all airport restrictions. “The Town has no authority to promulgate airport restrictions that conflict with federal aviation law and policy,” the suit reads.
Teresa McCaskie, chair of the Southold Town helicopter committee, which was formed last year to address helicopter noise complaints on the North Fork, was pleased with Mr. Zeldin’s amendment.
“It’s absolutely fantastic news,” she said. “At this point, the FAA does not need to be involved in any way, shape or form. This is a local airport that needs to be run by the local, duly-elected Town Board and the taxpaying residents.”
by Denise Civiletti Jun 17, 2015, 7:04 pm
Contractors removed more than 10,000 pounds of dead bunker fish from downtown waters today, Supervisor Sean Walter said this afternoon.
The fish have been dumped into a 20-foot deep by 30-foot long trench in the yard waste area at the town’s closed Youngs Avenue landfill site.
Greenport fisherman Thomas Sweat dragged a net with the help of the town pump-out boat, Walter said.
An environmental cleanup company the supervisor said he hired off a Brookhaven Town contract assisted with the effort today, he said. They mixed lime with the dead fish as they loaded them into the company’s truck and that kept the fish odor down in addition to accelerating decomposition, he said. That company hauled the dead fish from the shore to the landfill.
“The stuff came out of that truck like a gray milkshake,” Walter said. “It was pretty disgusting.”
Sweat will be paid 32 cents per pound for the fish removal. The environmental cleanup company will be paid $1,200 for the day.
The town board authorized hiring Sweat last night, but not the environmental cleanup company, Walter acknowledged. He said he was hoping the town highway department would supply trucks to haul the fish, but couldn’t work that out with Highway Superintendent George Woodson.
“That’s not so,” Woodson said. “I had a truck down there for four hours waiting to be loaded. After four hours, they had this vacuum truck show up, so I had my guy leave. It was a waste of time due to poor planning,” he said.
The supervisor said the town’s procurement policy allows him to hire a company off another municipality’s contract without the town board’s prior approval.
For more on the dead bunker fish, read our friend from the North Fork Environmental Council's recent Guest Column in the News-Review: http://riverheadnewsreview.timesreview.com/2015/06/65543/guest-column-people-are-to-blame-not-bluefish/