2007-09-26 / Features

Buckeye Pipeline Fuels City, Airports


Most people in Queens, most New Yorkers in fact, have no idea what the Buckeye pipeline is. But after four men were arrested last June for allegedly planning to attack fuel tanks and an underground pipeline at John F. Kennedy International Airport, things changed.

"We are here to address some of the concerns about our pipeline," said Roy R. Haase, Jr., senior manager for Buckeye Partners L.P. at the September meeting of the Queens Borough Board.

The pipeline, owned and operated by Buckeye, carrying jet fuel (also called turbine fuel) to JFK, was the target of alleged terrorists, according to a joint FBI, NYPD, Port Authority Police and U.S. Department of Homeland Security investigation.

Haase said 3.6 million gallons of jet fuel are carried daily by Buckeye to JFK. In addition, another 660,000 gallons per day of jet fuel runs through a branch pipeline to LaGuardia Airport. That's topped off by an average daily delivery of 2.7 million gallons of gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating oil to Long Island City.

A total of nearly 10 million gallons of turbine fuel, gasoline, diesel fuel and home heating oil, 4.2 million for airports and 5.6 million for New York City consumers, are transported every day through pipelines from 62 storage tanks Buckeye owns in Linden, New Jersey, across the Arthur Kill to Staten Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Nassau County.

"It would take 1,250 trucks a day to deliver this into the city," said Haase. "No other mode of transportation is safer than pipeline transportation."

Concerning the alleged plot to attack their pipeline at JFK, Haase said, "There was a lot of misinformation."

News reports that the pipeline could "blow up Brooklyn and Queens" are unfounded, said Haase. Moreover, he said it is secure, regulated and not located under homes.

The pipeline couldn't blow up, said Haase, essentially, because there is no air in it. "It's completely filled with liquid and the liquid does not burn," he said. "For there to be an explosion, there would have to be a rupture, the liquid would have to vaporize and mix with air and it would have to be ignited."

But according to a June 2, 2007 New York Daily News report, the alleged terrorists were planning to set off explosions at JFK fuel storage tanks and along the pipeline that runs to it from Linden.

In a June 4, 2007 New York Sun report, Richard Kuprewicz, president of Accufacts Inc., an energy consulting company, said an explosion could occur in the pipeline but would probably extend for hundreds of thousands of feet, not miles. "There have been neighborhoods that have disappeared- a tremendous fireball and tremendous amount of destruction. It's going to be fairly spectacular but it's going to be limited," he said in the Sun article.

Haase said Buckeye could not divulge its security operations in great detail so as not to undermine them.

"We are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation," he said, noting that 20 percent of the pipeline is inspected every year, with the entire length surveyed every five years. Buckeye owns and operates 5,500 miles of pipeline in the U.S. and contracts to operate another 2,100 miles. There are 40 miles of pipeline running between Linden, N.J. and Queens.

In addition, Haase said, the pipelines are secure because they are buried three to four feet deep underground and encased in concrete or steel.

"The pipeline does not run under anyone's home," he said, indicating they run mostly along Long Island Rail Road rights of way or public streets or property.

During September, Buckeye Partners will send an informational brochure, "Petroleum Pipelines in Your Community", to every homeowner and business located within an eighth of a mile of the pipeline as part of a public awareness effort. The brochure will also be sent to emergency responders and excavators in the city.

For more information, visit www.buckeye.com.

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