Millennium Cited as High Risk to Potential Terrorist Attacks

The embattled Canada-to-New York Millennium Pipeline project has been assailed for nearly every conceivable reason, or so it was thought. As the nation last week dealt with the shock of the deadly terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., it took a New York state resident only one day after the double assaults to protest the proposed Millennium line on the grounds that it posed a prime target for terrorists.

"Given the horrific tragedies...our country and the free world [have] just sustained from the forces of evil,...to put the Millennium pipeline near any school, and specifically all the schools in Briarcliff Manor (New York), could potentially be another horrific tragedy," David Kahn of Briarcliff Manor told FERC in a Sept. 12 letter of protest [CP98-141].

"You cannot, in good conscience, make any school a target for terrorism. But that is in fact what you are planning to do with the Taconic Parkway/ConEd Offset Alternative where you will place the incredible explosive potential of a 24-inch...pipeline next to our schools," he said.

Kahn was referring to a hotly contested route alternative that would permit Millennium to be built parallel to an existing power line corridor of Consolidated Edison Co. of New York for approximately seven miles in Westchester County, NY. FERC staff called the suggested route alternative for the pipeline a "viable option" last spring in its supplemental draft environmental impact statement (DEIS). Both ConEd, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) and numerous residents have objected to the siting of Millennium along the power line corridor and in their communities.

The Millennium line, if ever built, would be near the Pleasantville Campus of Pace University and an elementary school in Mt. Vernon, NY, where the proposed line would terminate, Kahn said. While "these schools are not innately at risk," he noted a "large congregation of children" near a natural gas pipeline would represent "joyous fodder for these madmen terrorists."

By placing the proposed pipeline along the contested ConEd route, FERC will give terrorists the "means" to carry out their acts, Kahn contends. "Such an unthinkable consequence to our schools and community could seemingly be easily accomplished by a terrorist driving his car onto the shoulder of the Taconic Parkway, near the school, and detonating a small focused charge."

If the Commission should allow Millennium to be routed near schools, "the notoriety of being one of the few communities to allow such a distinction might not escape the radar of those individuals bent on importing terrorism," he said. "There are some places one can never think of putting a pipeline, and this is one of those places."

Kahn sent copies of his letter to FERC to President Bush, Sens. Hillary R. Clinton (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (R-NY), Rep. Sue W. Kelly (R-NY), New York Gov. George Pataki, the New York PSC, and local officials.

The entire issue of whether Millennium would be a prime target for terrorists may be moot. The future of the pipeline project was thrown into doubt last month when the sponsors of the Canadian portion -- TransCanada Pipelines Ltd. and St. Clair Pipelines Ltd. -- withdrew for an indefinite period their applications from the National Energy Board.

The Millennium Pipeline, assuming it is approved by FERC and the NEB, would bring 714 MMcf/d of natural gas from Canada under Lake Erie to the New York metropolitan area. Sponsors include Columbia Gas Transmission, Westcoast (St. Clair affiliate), MCN Energy Group and TransCanada.

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