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Natural Gas Pipeline Construction Worries Rockaway Peninsula Beachgoers

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — With summer officially beginning on Saturday, New Yorkers visiting the beach on the Rockaway Peninsula in Queens have been seeing something they did not expect.

As CBS 2’s Scott Rapoport reported, construction rigs for a natural gas pipeline have been set up on the ocean, and they are not going anywhere for a while. And the project is making waves.

“I worry about this stuff,” a man said.

“I’m really not sure if it’s something they should be doing,” a woman said.

Three miles off the coast of the beach at Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways, you will see the offshore rig.

“The drilling fluid that’s used in this process is going to be deposited on the ocean floor,” said Maureen Healy of the Coalition Against the Rockaway Pipeline.

It is called the Rockaway Lateral Project – a roughly $200 million effort to tap into a natural gas pipeline in the ocean and build a new line to deliver gas to Brooklyn and Queens.

The new pipeline would go right through the beach, under Jamaica Bay, and down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn.

The Rockaway Peninsula is still healing after Superstorm Sandy back in October 2012, and locals feel a major construction project adds insult to injury.

And there are concerns about the possibility of a deadly gas pipeline explosion like the one that killed eight people in East Harlem in March.

“Anytime you run a gas line, there is concern,” a man said.

A representative of Williams Transco, the company that is overseeing the construction of the project, told CBS 2 News the company has a long and safe track record of delivering natural gas to New York City.

Construction was already well under way as summer began, and the pipeline was ready to go into the ground.

Opponents said they may not be able to stop it, but they would warn others.

“We can still tell the public what’s happening here and let them make a free and informed choice about whether they want to be in the vicinity of these activities,” Healy said.

The company overseeing the construction said it expects the project to be completed by the end of the year.

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