MINISINK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A dramatic standoff continues to unfold in one part of our area, where crews constructing a natural gas pipeline are meeting fierce resistance from local homeowners.
Protesters temporarily shut down the work in the Town of Minisink, located in Orange County, on Thursday.
Some blocked the advance of construction equipment as neighbors expressed their collective defiance with chants of “Who’s town? Our town!”
It was the fourth day of protests at the site of a planned natural gas compression station in a controversial section of the massive Millennium Pipeline designed to deliver fuel from upstate New York.
The company got the go-ahead on Monday from the federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The moment ground was broken, the protests began.
“They basically come in, purchased the land and kinda said ‘Sorry, it’s a federal project, there’s nothing you can say or do about it,’” Leanne Braun told CBS 2′s Lou Young.
The section of the pipeline generating the protests was approved by a split 3-2 vote, so it will get an automatic rehearing.
Opponents said they will file a court challenge if they don’t win that. They’re rather passionate in the opinion that work shouldn’t start until the process is complete.
“This facility could be built 18 miles away in a forest…and they choose to shove this right here down our throats,” resident Roc Solmita said.
Millenium Pipeline spokesman Stephen Sullivan said alternate sites are too environmentally sensitive for such a facility.
About the protesters, he said “it’s certainly within their right to sue if they wish to do so, but we are proceeding with construction.”
There have already been two arrests this week.
Neighbors said they’re willing to risk it for a chance to slow the work down.
“I’m not a radical. I just have my family. I have two daughters. I live around the corner from where they want to build this thing,” resident Shawn Cahill said.
“Here, we don’t even have our own fire department. We don’t even have a fire department here. The closest burn unit is in Westchester,” Asha Canalos said.
If work goes according to schedule, the gas compression plant could be sending natural gas south to Ramapo by mid-February.
The construction site was shut down for about 40 minutes on Thursday. No one was arrested.