New York Subways at the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

How vulnerable are NYC’s underwater subway tunnels to flooding?

Ashley Fetters

New York City is full of peculiar phenomena—rickety fire escapes; 100-year-old subway tunnels; air conditioners propped perilously into window frames—that can strike fear into the heart of even the toughest city denizen. But should they? Every month, writer Ashley Fetters will be exploring—and debunking—these New York-specific fears, letting you know what you should actually worry about, and what anxieties you can simply let slip away.

The 25-minute subway commute from Crown Heights to the Financial District on the 2/3 line is, in my experience, a surprisingly peaceful start to the workday—save for one 3,100-foot stretch between the Clark Street and Wall Street stations, where for three minutes I sit wondering what the probability is that I will soon die a torturous, claustrophobic drowning death right here in this subway car.

The Clark Street Tunnel, opened in 1916, is one of approximately a dozen tunnels that escort MTA passengers from one borough to the next underwater—and just about all of them, with the exception of the 1989 addition of the 63rd Street F train tunnel, were constructed between 1900 and 1936.

Each day, thousands of New Yorkers venture across the East River and back again through these tubes buried deep in the riverbed, some of which are nearing or even past their 100th birthdays. Are they wrong to ponder their own mortality while picturing one of these watery catacombs suddenly springing a leak?

Mostly yes, they are, says Michael Horodniceanu, the former president of MTA Capital Construction and current principal of Urban Advisory Group. First, it’s important to remember that the subway tunnel is built under the riverbed, not just in the river—so what immediately surrounds the tunnel isn’t water but some 25 feet of soil. “There’s a lot of dirt on top of it,” Horodniceanu says. “It’s well into the bed of the bottom of the channel.”

And second, as Angus Kress Gillespie, author of Crossing Under the Hudson: The Story of the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels, points out, New York’s underwater subway tunnels are designed to withstand some leaking. And withstand it they do: Pumps placed below the floor of the tunnel, he says, are always running, always diverting water seepage into the sewers. (Horodniceanu says the amount of water these pumps divert into the sewer system each day numbers in the thousands of gallons.)

Additionally, MTA crews routinely repair the grouting and caulking, and often inject a substance into the walls that creates a waterproof membrane outside the tunnel—which keeps water out of the tunnel and relieves any water pressure acting on its walls. New tunnels, Horodniceanu points out, are even built with an outside waterproofing membrane that works like an umbrella: Water goes around it, it falls to the sides, and then it gets channeled into a pumping station and pumped out.

Of course, the classic New York nightmare scenario isn’t just a cute little trickle finding its way in. The anxiety daydream usually involves something sinister, or seismic. The good news, however, is that while an earthquake or explosion would indeed be bad for many reasons, it likely wouldn’t result in the frantic flooding horror scene that plays out in some commuters’ imaginations.

Horodniceanu assures me that tunnels built more recently are “built to withstand a seismic event.” The older tunnels, however—like, um, the Clark Street Tunnel—“were not seismically retrofitted, let me put it that way,” Horodniceanu says. “But the way they were built is in such a way that I do not believe an earthquake would affect them.” They aren’t deep enough in the ground, anyway, he says, to be too intensely affected by a seismic event. (The MTA did not respond to a request for comment.)

One of the only real threats to tunnel infrastructure, Horodniceanu adds, is extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy, for example, caused flooding in the tunnels, which “created problems with the infrastructure.” He continues, “The tunnels have to be rebuilt as a result of saltwater corroding the infrastructure.”

Still, he points out, hurricanes don’t exactly happen with no warning. So while Hurricane Sandy did cause major trauma to the tunnels, train traffic could be stopped with ample time to keep passengers out of harm’s way. In 2012, Governor Andrew Cuomo directed all the MTA’s mass transit services to shut down at 7 p.m. the night before Hurricane Sandy was expected to hit New York City.

And Gillespie, for his part, doubts even an explosion would result in sudden, dangerous flooding. A subway tunnel is not a closed system, he points out; it’s like a pipe that’s open at both ends. “The force of a blast would go forwards and backwards out the exit,” he says.

So the subway-train version of that terrifying Holland Tunnel flood scene in Sylvester Stallone’s Daylight is … unrealistic, right?

“Yeah,” Gillespie laughs. “Yeah. It is.”

Got a weird New York anxiety that you want explored? E-mail tips@curbed.com, and we may include it in a future column.

The Pakistani Nuclear Threat (Revelation 8)

Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal more worrisome than North Korea’s

@theindpanoramaOct 19, 2018 – 8:06 pm EDT

Pakistan is more dangerous than North Korea as it does not have a centralized control on its nuclear weapons, making them vulnerable to theft and sale.

By Ven Parmeswaran

9/11 happened because Pakistan supported the Taliban and the Al Qaeda.  We discovered that Pakistan was the epicenter of global terrorism.  Almost all terrorists emanated from Pakistan and committed terrorism in the U.S.A. and Europe.  President George W Bush sent his Secretary of State, Gen. Collin Powell to Pakistan, with whom the USA had a Mutual Security Pact from 1954.  Powell met Gen. Musharraf of Pakistan and made a deal. Pakistan agreed to cooperate fully with the USA and provide all help in finding Osama bin Laden and other leaders of Al Qaeda.”     

President Obama had intelligence that Pakistan was hiding and protecting Osama Bin Laden in one of military cantonments.  In 2011, that is 10 years after 9/11, the U.S. secretly got rid of Osama Bin Laden. The Pakistani doctor who confirmed the identity of Osama Bin Laden has been held in jail by Pakistan.  Thus, Pakistan betrayed its ally, the U.S.A.  For ten years, Pakistan was trying to use Osama bin Laden’s leadership to stage terrorism in India.  The mutual trust between the USA and Pakistan was broken.  However, President Obama chose not to punish Pakistan.

WAKE UP CALL BY PRESIDENT TRUMP

President Trump is the first U.S. President to challenge Pakistan.  He wrote in his tweet: “The U.S. has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies, deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools.”   President Trump withdrew military aid and gave an ultimatum to Pakistan to stop supporting the Taliban in Afghanistan and to dismantle all terror organizations and terrorist sanctuaries in Pakistan.

PAKISTAN’S ECONOMY IN SHAMBLES WITH NO FOREIGN EXCHANGE

Mr. Imran Khan, the new Prime Minister of Pakistan has been elected with the tacit support and help of Pakistan’s military.  For his survival his first loyalty is to the military.   Pakistan is negotiating with the I.M.F. for a $12 billion loan.  The U.S. has leverage in the IMF being the largest investor.  The IMF cannot approve the loan without consent from the USA.    Pakistan has been devoting its scarce resources to keep on producing nuclear bombs.

PAKISTAN’S NUCLEAR WEAPONS ARE VULNERABLE TO THEFT AND SALE

Pakistan is more dangerous than North Korea as it does not have a centralized control on its nuclear weapons, making them vulnerable to theft and sale, former Senator Larry Pressler warned, describing both the nations as rogue states.    He feared that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons might be used against the US, warning of the possibility of someone buying these nuclear weapons from generals.    “The weapons could be transported to the US fairly simply.  Just as 9/11 was a very simple operation run by 20 or 30 people,” he said.  “The Pakistani nuclear bombs are not controlled.  They are subject to sale or stealing and they could be easily gotten out of Pakistan to just about anywhere in the world,” he said speaking at an event sponsored by The Hudson Institute, a top American think-tank.    The former top American Senator, however, said he does not think that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are going to be used against India. I do not agree.   The Senator said “I think what North Korea needs is just a lot of attention and hand-holding.  Pakistan Is a different thing because you don’t really have one person in-charge.  I think Pakistan is more dangerous to the US,” he reiterated in response to a question.

“We should declare Pakistan a terrorist state.  We should put certain sanctions on Pakistan,” he said.

PAKISTAN’S GROWING ARSENAL WITHOUT CENTRAL CIVILIAN CONTROL IS THREAT TO GLOBAL SECURITY

Why does Pakistan need to keep on increasing the number of bombs?  There are thousands of nuclear weapons in the world today.  According to the latest count from the Federation of American Scientists, the 5 original nuclear powers have a combined 15,465 nuclear weapons between them, most of which are divided amongst the US and Russia. Yet, the fastest growing arsenal in the world is not included in this number.  While Pakistan has a range of 100-120 nuclear weapons in its possession—a figure that pales in comparison to the US or Russia—Islamabad has devoted a tremendous amount of its military budget to growing its arsenal and producing the associated delivery systems that are needed to launch them.

More alarming than Pakistan’s current stockpile is the projected growth of its arsenal over the next decade.  In a wide ranging report for the Council on Foreign Relations, professor Gregory D Koblentz of George Mason University assessed that Pakistan had enough highly enriched uranium to increase its stockpile to 200 nuclear weapons by 2020 if fully utilized.  Percentage wise, this would mean that Pakistan could have as many nuclear weapons as the U.K. by 2020.  Moreover, Pakistan falls outside the purview of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

To guarantee the ability to rapidly expand their stockpile, the Pakistani military is investing in reprocessing plutonium in addition to enriching uranium.  In January 2015, the Institute for Science and International Security reported that the Pakistanis opened up their fourth plutonium facility at Khushab, which provides Islamabad with an additional channel to construct nuclear bomb material in a relatively short period of time.  “Its expansion appears to be part of an effort to increase the production of weapons-grade plutonium,” the ISIS report (Pakistan’s intelligence agency) reads:  “Allowing Pakistan to build a larger number of miniaturized plutonium-based nuclear weapons that can complement its existing highly enriched uranium nuclear weapons.”

PAKISTANI NUKES A MAJOR U.S. INTELLIGENCE PRIORITY

To say that the U.S. Intelligence community is closely monitoring the development of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program would be an understatement.  The U.S. government is doing more than just monitoring:  they are actively preparing for a terrible catastrophe and engaging Pakistani officials in the hopes that they will stop pouring resources into the expansion of their program.  The last thing Washington wants or needs is a nuclear crisis flashpoint in a dangerous and unpredictable region filled with an alphabet soup of Islamist terrorist groups.  The US government under both George W Bush and Barack Obama has been trying to prevent such a crisis scenario from occurring.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Despite all the attempts from the nuclear nonproliferation community, Pakistan will continue to develop and strengthen its nuclear deterrent as long as the high brass in the Pakistani military continues to have an India-centric mindset in its defense policy. India and Pakistan have fought three wars since independence in 1947, and in each case, the Pakistanis were either the losers or forced into a stalemate before acceding to a ceasefire (1971 breakaway of East Pakistan was an especially embarrassing defeat for the Pakistanis).  Islamabad has not forgotten these cases ever since.  And for the Pakistanis, the lessons of these past conflicts are all the same: we cannot repeat history.

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S NEW WORLD ORDER: INDIA AND THE USA HAVE SIGNED A DEAL THAT MAKES THEM CLOSEST ALLIES ON A PAR WITH THE NATO MEMBERS

The US and the IMF have told Pakistan that it cannot use IMF loan to repay China or divert the resources to increasing its nuclear arsenal.  President Trump, unlike George W Bush or Obama, is challenging Pakistan to behave.  In effect, Trump is saying that he will not tolerate Pakistan to betray again.  Trump is also anxious to withdraw from Afghanistan and he knows Pakistan is the bottleneck.  Based on his tough negotiations and policies towards his close allies, be it Canada or Western Europe, Trump means business.  Therefore, it is to be hoped that the U.S. will not allow Pakistan to mess up with international security.   I think President Trump is giving clear messages to Pakistan’s new Prime Minister and its military/ISIS leaders.

(Scarsdale, New York based Ven Parameswaran is Chairman, Asian American Republican Committee founded in 1988)

Trump Promotes the Nuclear Disaster of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

GETTY IMAGES

BY TIM JUDSON, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR

The Trump administration has been plotting for many months to seize power over the electrical generation sector by executive order, and despite widespread opposition and infighting that set the effort back this week, analysts say President Trump is personally invested in the idea, and that he and Energy Secretary Perry remain committed to ordering a bailout of failing coal and nuclear plants.

It wouldn’t exactly nationalize the industry or impose martial law. But the administration has invoked false national security claims and inappropriate „emergency“ powers to claim the right to upend the market and force ratepayers and taxpayers to subsidize nuclear and coal plants against their will.  It would commandeer their money to prop up aging, unsafe, uncompetitive plants that should, and otherwise would, shut down.

Throughout the summer the administration signaled that soon, likely before the midterm election, Trump would issue a Section 202(c) emergency order imposing a two-year moratorium on nuclear and coal plant closures, ostensibly for the Department of Energy to study the ramifications of letting them close.

Meanwhile, grid operators would be required to buy electricity from struggling coal and nuclear plants, creating the equivalent of tariffs guaranteeing large profits for nuclear and coal plants. Grid managers would be forced to buy power from them, even though it’s more expensive than other sources of electricity, including renewables and efficiency.

The Electricity Consumers Resource Council has argued against the plan. Ratepayers are a captive market, so utilities are supposed to shop around for cheaper electricity on their behalf. A Trump executive order would prevent that, on the specious theory letting uncompetitive nuclear plants close threatens electrical grid reliability and national security, so consumers should get a big rate hike to keep them open.

While in effect over the next two years, such an order could preempt closure of uncompetitive nuclear plants, including those already scheduled to close. It might also delay or derail nuclear plant closures scheduled more than two years out, including New York’s Indian Point.

The Heritage Foundation opposes the Trump plan and points out there is no evidence that subsidizing aging nuclear plants helps grid reliability or national security. Keeping them open actually increases risks of radiological accidents and cyberattacks. But there’s plenty of evidence subsidies help nuclear plant owners.

Over the last year, owners ramped up spending on lobbying and pushed through billion-dollar state subsidies to guarantee large profits at public expense, first in New York ($7.6 billion) and Illinois ($2.4 billion), then in New Jersey ($3.6 billion) and Connecticut (estimated up to $3 billion).  They are now aiming at Pennsylvania and other states. They argue they deserve subsidies for fighting climate change, by supplying „clean energy“ with „zero emissions.“

In fact, these aging plants are dirty and dangerous. Propping them up worsens climate change by undermining growth of renewables and efficiency measures. Owners got their subsidies anyway, after threatening state politicians with the fallout from closing their plants early.

By my calculation, most of the windfall is going to the largest US nuclear operator, Exelon. New York and Illinois subsidies accounted for about 60 percent of its profit growth this year. New Jersey and other state subsidies will swell it further. A Trump executive order would transfer yet more wealth from ratepayers to Exelon and other nuclear owners.

Is all this even legal? We’re about to find out. There are a slew of lawsuits waiting to challenge Trump’s executive order from consumer advocates and non-nuclear/non-coal generators. Many grounds for challenging it exist.

Since there is no energy or national security emergency, invoking them in a Section 202(c) order misapplies the Federal Powers Act and the Defense Production Act.  Trump’s order would be unprecedented, anti-competitive, government interference in power markets. It’s a federal mandate forcing individuals and businesses to pay for uneconomical power they don’t want. Those in New York and other states already coughing up billions for state nuclear subsidies will be subject to double jeopardy from this new federal surcharge, even if they object to subsidizing nuclear power and try to opt out through renewables-only purchasing programs.

There’s a fundamental question of whether nuclear subsidies serve the public interest, or whether they violate due process and the public trust.

In New York and other states, subsidies were rammed through with only perfunctory public input. Tens of thousands of New Yorkers filed complaints after they were passed. A lawsuit in New York State Supreme Court (Matter of Hudson River Sloop Clearwater v. NYS Public Service Commission, Albany County, 7242-16) is the first to challenge state subsidies on such fundamental, public interest grounds.

The organization I lead is a plaintiff in that case, which is also the last remaining legal challenge to state nuclear subsidies still standing, since federal suits asking the more technical question of whether state subsidies interfere with federal regulation of wholesale electricity markets were struck down. The NYS Supreme Court case survived motions to dismiss, and will soon go into evidentiary hearings. That means the question of whether New York’s nuclear subsidies are unfair, illegal or improper will finally get adjudicated in court.

The suit can’t reverse nuclear subsidies already established in Illinois and other states, but it could end them in New York and deter new states from adopting them.

It may also provide a glimpse of how lawsuits against a Trump executive order could get traction. Nuclear subsidies via government fiat contradict the public will, severely distort markets, and misapply the law. Executive overreach extended so far is ripe for remedy in court.

Tim Judson is the Executive Director of the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), one of the plaintiffs in the New York lawsuit.

The End of the United States Pawns in Iraq

Outgoing Iraqi PM: I will not Retire from Politics

Iraq’s outgoing Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hinted at the possibility of accepting a “sovereign” portfolio in the government of his successor, Adil Abdul Mahdi, and announced his intention to restructure his parliamentary Nasr bloc.

Abadi did not take the oath as a deputy in parliament and as the leader of a bloc that won third place after Saeroon and Fatah before former national security adviser Faleh al-Fayyad leaves the Nasr bloc.

“Since the formation of the Nasr coalition, I declared that Nasr is a national project interested in citizenship, democracy, growth and healthy state-building in a manner that guarantees its unity, prosperity, and sovereignty, regardless of us winning or losing elections,” announced the statement from Abadi’s office late Thursday.

“Today, I renew my commitment to Nasr’s project as a basis that I will depend on and work for in Iraqi politics,” Abadi added.

Nasr will be “reproduced” to meet current and future political developments, he said.

Abadi insisted that he will not “retire from politics, regardless of any executive position,” hoping Nasr will remain intact to help build state institutions and fight corruption.

“I renew to you our faith and determination to continue with Nasr as a comprehensive constructive project that varies politically, socially, culturally, and in media,” he asserted.

Abadi denied that he had been offered any „ministerial position in the next line-up“, indicating that if he was offered a position that serves “our project and strengthens our position,” then he would accept it.

MP Nada Shaker Jawdat of Nasr coalition told Asharq Al-Awsat that Nasr project was highly welcomed by the Iraqi people during the parliamentary elections in May.

She explained that Abadi had been preoccupied with state matters and failed to heed the bloc, stressing, however, that in the coming period, “we will witness significant progress on this project, especially after the people’s confidence into it has grown.”

Asked whether Abadi could be assigned as vice president or foreign minister, Jawdat noted that the outgoing PM “has never expressed interest in any position and therefore, despite what is rumored, there is nothing official.”

On the other hand, Saeroon coalition, backed by leader of Sadrist movement Moqtada al-Sadr, considered Fatah and Hikma alliances‘ decision to leave it up to the PM-designate to choose his ministers a “successful step”.

Saeroon spokesman Qahtan al-Jubouri told Asharq Al-Awsat that the alliance lauds such a decision.

Jubouri added that this reflects the keenness of the political blocs, which have taken such decisions, to ensure the success of the government.

Meanwhile, Abdul Mahdi is facing criticism following his intention to announce an “incomplete” government next Monday or Wednesday.

Former MP Salah al-Jubouri indicated that Abdul Mahdi should propose a complete cabinet rather than in stages.

MP Haidar al-Mulla of the National Dialogue Front said that the Binaa coalition is putting conditions on Abdul Mahdi to participate in the government.

Mullah hoped the PM will not succumb to political blackmailing. “We are sure that he will not yield in, however, if that happens, the Reform alliance will take a firm stance.“

Hamas Continues to Trample Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Disable Palestinian tries to remove Israeli wire during a protest at the Israel-Gaza border fence in Gaza.. (photo credit:“ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS)

Egyptian officials also demanded that the protesters stay at least 500 meters away from the border.

Hamas has rejected an Egyptian request to halt the weekly demonstrations along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, Palestinian sources said on Saturday.

The sources said the Egyptian intelligence officials who met with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza City last Thursday also demanded that the protesters stay at least 500 meters away from the border. However, Hamas also rejected this demand, the sources told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

But it did appear to have called for restrained action at Friday’s weekly demonstration, which left the IDF and Hamas in a tense standoff, but failed to ignite a major escalation.

The weekend events were expected to have a significant impact on whether Israel would launch a military operation in Gaza. But the low level of activity kept the situation’s status quo.

On Friday, 10,000 Palestinians again demonstrated near the border, burning tires and hurling stones and Molotov cocktails at IDF troops. There were three attempted infiltrations, in which Palestinians crossed into Israel and then went back to Gaza, the IDF said.

Sources in the Gaza Strip said approximately 130 Palestinians were injured by gunfire and tear-gas inhalation.

On Saturday evening, an IDF aircraft struck a cell of Palestinians that had launched incendiary aerial devices from the southern Gaza Strip into Israel that morning, which had ignited fires in the Be’eri and Shokeda forests near the border. The IAF on Friday afternoon also attacked a terrorist squad that launched incendiary devices into Israel.

Several Palestinians who were at the demonstration commented that the number of demonstrators was smaller than in previous weeks, which had seen 30,000 protesters at the Friday event.

They also pointed out that the protesters dispersed earlier than usual, raising speculation about a possible secret deal between Hamas and Egypt.

“The Egyptians made it clear to Hamas that Israel was this time more serious than ever and would use unprecedented force if the violence continues along the border,” said a Palestinian political analyst in the Gaza Strip. “Apparently, Hamas issued instructions to its supporters to keep a low profile.”

The IDF also said it noticed that in several places Hamas forces restrained protesters and distanced them from the security fence.

Shortly before the protests began, the organizers of the “Great March of Return“ (the name Palestinians use to call the protests that began March 30) urged Palestinians to “maintain the peaceful and popular” nature of the demonstrations.

Taher a-Nunu, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said the weekly demonstrations will continue, but only in a “peaceful and popular” manner. He denied that Egypt had asked Hamas to stop the protests.

Early Friday, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov called on all sides to refrain from violence.

“In light of today’s planned Gaza march, I urge all to exercise restraint, to proceed in a peaceful manner, and to avoid escalation. The UN is working with Egypt and its partners to avoid violence, address all humanitarian issues and support reconciliation,” he said.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman had said that if Friday passed without any violence he would consider reopening two land crossings into Gaza: the pedestrian one at Erez and the commercial one at Kerem Shalom.

Israel closed those crossings, which are two of the three main arteries into Gaza, on Wednesday in response Gaza violence. As of Saturday night, the two crossings remained closed.

Meanwhile, a source close to Hamas said that Gen. Abbas Kamel, head of Egypt’s Mukhabarat (General Intelligence Service), may visit the Gaza Strip and Ramallah next week as part of Cairo’s ongoing effort to achieve a truce between Gaza-based terrorist groups and Israel. Kamel is also hoping to persuade Hamas and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction to resolve their dispute, and agree to the formation of a national unity government, the source added.

Kamel’s scheduled visit to Ramallah and the Gaza Strip last week was canceled after two Grad rockets were launched at Israel on Wednesday. One of the rockets fell near a house in Beersheba, while the second fell into the Mediterranean Sea south of Tel Aviv.

The Egyptian intelligence officials who did meet with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip last Thursday later traveled to Ramallah, where they held talks with senior Fatah officials.

After the talks in Ramallah, Fatah officials launched a scathing attack on Hamas and accused it of holding the residents of the Gaza Strip hostage. They also accused Hamas of thwarting Egypt’s effort to end the Hamas-Fatah rift.

Fatah spokesman Atef Abu Seif said Hamas was seeking a truce deal with Israel instead of ending the power struggle with Fatah. Abu Seif accused Hamas of “paving the way for the US administration and Israel to pass” US President Donald Trump’s unseen plan for peace in the Middle East, which the US administration has called the “deal of the century.”

The Fatah spokesman claimed that Hamas has hijacked the weekly demonstrations along the border with the Gaza Strip in order to serve its own interests and conduct negotiations with Israel about a truce.

Majed Fityani, secretary-general of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said Hamas had become a “front for a demonic alliance led by the US administration and Israel, whose goal is to undermine the Palestinian national project and preserve the occupation.”

Fityani told the PA’s Voice of Palestine radio station that Hamas was seeking to further separate the Gaza Strip from the West Bank. Hamas and Israel, he charged, have a common interest in maintaining the status quo in Gaza.

Responding to the Fatah charges, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the attacks reflected Fatah’s concern over Hamas’s success in “restoring the momentum to the Palestinian cause.” Fatah, he said, has lost its credibility because of its adherence to security coordination with Israel in the West Bank.

A Nuclear Disaster Awaits Indian Point Plant at the Sixth Seal

PIPELINEAIM gas pipeline opponents lose legal challenge, may appeal

Thomas C. Zambito, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon spoke to students about their proximity to the Algonquin natural gas pipeline. She then shared her thoughts. Seth Harrison, sharriso@lohud.com

Opponents of the AIM pipeline expansion say they may refocus their legal challenges on the next phase of the project

While a federal appeals court has rejected a pivotal challenge to the expansion of a natural gas pipeline near the Indian Point nuclear power plant, opponents say they’re not done trying to get the courts to block the project.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a July 27 decision, sided with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in turning back a legal challenge to the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline expansion.

The Hudson Valley environmental group Riverkeeper claimed the installation of 2,159 feet of natural gas pipeline across from Indian Point posed a serious threat to public safety, particularly if the pipeline ruptured.

Riverkeeper spokesman Cliff Weathers said a decision to appeal has not been made yet.

But Courtney Williams, who heads the grassroots group SAPE (Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion), said the opposition may focus its future legal challenges on the next phase of the expansion, known as the Atlantic Bridge Project.

“We’re still in discussions with Riverkeeper to determine whether we will appeal this portion of the decision,” Williams said. “But the legal challenge to Atlantic Bridge is already underway.”

Another challenge coming

SAPE joined Riverkeeper, the City of Boston and others in challenging FERC’s decision-making process.

Opponents argued that FERC should have considered the environmental impacts of all three phases of the expansion, including the Atlantic Bridge Project, as one. But the appeals court sided with FERC. “We find no basis to set aside the Commission’s order on those grounds,” the appeals court wrote.

The Atlantic Bridge Project is an extension of the Algonquin pipeline that runs through Yorktown and Somers in northern Westchester before heading into Putnam County and Connecticut.

It is part of a $972 million expansion that will make it possible for the pipeline’s current owner, Enbridge Energy Partners, to deliver natural gas to New England from Pennsylvania, by way of a pipeline that cuts through New Jersey and New York.

The project has impacted several Hudson Valley towns in Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties and touched off a number of public demonstrations. In 2016, several protesters were arrested after locking themselves inside a section of pipeline in Verplanck while it was being readied to be installed under the Hudson River.

SAPE has staged protests outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New Castle home, urging the governor to shut down the pipeline. And last month at a rally in Peekskill, Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo’s opponent in the September Democratic primary, accused the governor of moving too slowly to address the opposition’s concerns.

In June, state officials sent a letter to FERC, urging the commission to re-evaluate its decision allowing the pipeline near Indian Point.

NRC signs off on plan

The appeals court ruling said FERC’s decision allowing the pipeline near Indian Point was supported by an analysis by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which the commission found „persuasive.“

NRC’s review determined that Indian Point’s two reactors could safely operate or temporarily shut down if a gas line ruptured near the plant.

FERC’s 2015 ruling credited NRC’s expertise in assessing safety threats to nuclear facilities.

“We see no basis to reject the Commission’s to do so,” the appeals court wrote.

The NRC said it could re-evaluate its decision after Indian Point’s owner, Louisiana-based Entergy, submits a plan for how the plant will be dismantled. Entergy has plans to shut down the Buchanan plant by 2021.

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From The USA TODAY NETWORK