2002-05-22 / Front Page

Gianaris, Poveromo Seek Security Around Power Plants

by john toscano

Alarmed by the lack of security at power plants and amid warnings from the FBI that the plants may be targeted by terrorists, Assemblymember Michael Gianaris has introduced a bill requiring the state public security office to oversee security at the plants.

Gianaris’ fears are further heightened by the fact that his Astoria/Long Island City district contains about 10 electric generating plants. Combined, these plants generate about half the electric power used in New York City.

Gianaris filed the bill also because he’s concerned that budget shortages might shortchange security efforts.

He said in a recent interview: "In the immediate aftermath of the [World Trade Center] attacks, the government stepped in—you had the NYPD cops and the National Guard, and there was an immediate mobilization. But as we move into the long term, you can see those things are not there, and it is just not possible for the state or the city to manage the ongoing costs."

Civic leader Rose Marie Poveromo also complained that, after a flurry of activity immediately after September 11, things have gone back to normal.

"Things have become quiet, and now, all of a sudden, security is on the back burner," said Poveromo, president of the United Community Civic Association (UCCA).

Despite assertions from several power companies operating in her area, Poveromo insists there is still a lack of security. A long-time opponent of power plants and efforts to build new ones, she says the non-security issue has only stiffened her opposition.

"If they want to build more power plants, let them build them in Manhattan, she said. "Or let them build them in the area of Albany where most of our legislators who make our decisions live."

Among the operators of plants in the Astoria area, the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and KeySpan spokespersons said their companies had made security improvements but refused to offer details.

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