2011-12-14 / Features

On the brief side...

Maloney Urges Tighter Controls On Steam Release

Following a middle of the night disturbance on December 5, during which the release of over-pressured steam from a Long Island City power facility created a deafening noise heard by Ravenswood, Roosevelt Island and Manhattan residents, Congressmember Carolyn Maloney and other officials urged a series of changes to prevent future occurrences.

In a letter to officials at the Trans Canada Corporation, located at 38-54 Vernon Blvd., Maloney and the others urged “steps to mitigate noise disturbances resulting from your facility operations and to improve communication processes with the surrounding community.”

Firstly, the group asked the firm to inform it of pressure relief schedules so that nearby residents have a better sense of when the associated noise is likely to occur.

The complainants said, “It was unacceptable for residents…to be awakened in the middle of the night to unrelenting, ear-shattering sounds with no indication of the source of the noise and its public safety implications.”

This schedule, they said, should be shared, “at a minimum”, with local elected officials, local community boards, the Roosevelt Island Residents Association and the Ravenswood Houses Tenants Association.

Secondly, the offending firm was asked to limit any pressure overload release to daytime hours and, if possible, never during the night when residents are at home or asleep.

Finally the group of officials asked that the Ravenswood Generating Station establish a point of contact for residents to call if they have any concerns they would like to discuss directly.

Besides Maloney, the petitioning group included Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, state Senator Jose M. Serrano, Assemblymember Micah Kellner and Councilmember Jessica Lappin.

Gov Urged To Help Assure Constituents’ Health Care

Concerned over the closure of hospitals in his Queens/The Bronx district, Congressmember Joseph Crowley has urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to join him in working to ensure that the closures have not affected his constituents’ access to health care.

Crowley said the idea came to him after learning that the governor had established the Brooklyn Health Systems Redesign Work Group to examine the status of struggling healthcare facilities in Brooklyn.

Crowley explained in a letter to Cuomo, “While the proposals from the working group may not be the answer for every situation, I would like us to begin a conversation on how best to address some of the similar issues we are facing in Queens and The Bronx.

“This is a high priority for residents in these areas, and I hope we can work together to address the concerns of these communities.”

Crowley noted that a number of hospitals have closed in Queens over the past several years, including St. Joseph’s Hospital, Parkway Hospital, St. John’s Hospital Queens and Mary Immaculate Hospital.

The lawmaker said that besides the economic benefits that resulted from the closings, “To hindering patients’ access to care, these closings have had a severe and direct impact on Queens.”

The same situation resulted from hospitals in The Bronx, Crowley said. But because of the closings in both boroughs, which comprise his district, Crowley said, “It is time to start the search for innovative ways to support struggling hospitals and new types of care facilities, in areas that have seen hospital closures.”

Crowley has strongly supported urban hospitals and specialty care centers in both boroughs, trying to ensure residents have access to quality care. He was a leader in keeping The Bronx’s Westchester Square Medical Center open. He has also worked to ensure fair Medicare payments, he added.

The congressmember has also joined with his colleagues in the New York Congressional Delegation in calling for the protection of hospitals and health systems from the threats of spending reductions, he said.

Gennaro Highlights ‘Fracking’ Dangers To Water

Emergency aid to Dimock, a small Pennsylvania town near the New York state border, received a gift of water last week necessitated by contamination to the town’s groundwater supply from hydrofracking operations.

A 5,700-gallon tank of clean water was trucked into Dimock from the New York city watershed in the upstate area, to aid 11 affected households in Dimock, fracking opponent Councilmember James Gennaro announced at City Hall in Manhattan.

Dimock residents had complained of assorted health problems after their bath and drinking water was allegedly contaminated by an oil and gas company’s drilling operations. After the fracking in the area, the groundwater was found to contain methane gas, radioactive material and toxic chemicals known as antifreeze, Gennaro said.

Gennaro said that there is a threat of contaminated water if New York state allows the fracking process, which is under consideration by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The lawmaker said if chemicals from fracking contaminated the city’s water supply, it would be tragic for residents because there is no way the huge amount of water needed could be trucked in, as it was for Dimock.

At the City Hall rally against hydrofracking, (the process in which chemicals and water are injected into underground deposits of shale to access natural gas deposits), charges were leveled against Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett for allegedly accepting $1.6 million in campaign contributions from the natural gas industry that poured into the state, according to Common Cause.

Another fracking opponent, actor Mark Ruffalo, also spoke at the rally.

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