Occupy the Pipeline: The Movement

As human beings, we tend to forget that we came later, and the planet came first. We tend to overestimate ourselves and keep exploiting Mother Nature. The environmentalists keep saying,”Save the planet, save the planet”. However, what we fail to notice is that we are one amongst many species that have walked this planet. There have been a total of five mass extinctions till now. If we tend to overstep our limits, we will just be part of another mass extinction and the planet will just wipe us out like it has so many before us.

The increasing pollution and emissions, pipelines and everything else that we use to overstep these limits are causing a massive impact on the carbon footprint. The complete and immense use of fossil fuels has been one of the most important factors causing humongous impacts on the environment, and minimizing it should be one of our main goals. That is why when the Spectra pipeline commenced its construction, the Occupy the Pipeline group was established in the spring of 2012. One of its main goals is to oppose the construction of the Spectra Pipeline. So what is the Spectra Pipeline?

The Spectra Pipeline is a pipeline of fracked-gas that is, as of now under construction in Mahattan’s West Village. It’s a high pressure pipeline of a large diameter, and is under opposition by Occupy the Pipeline for many different reasons.

Imagine the explosion that rocked San Bruno, California in 2010 because of a pipeline disaster. It had brought with it a massive collateral and environmental damage on the entire community, and the clean up effort was enormous. Disasters like this are nothing but the carelessness and ignorance of big companies that fail to pay attention to their own products, and only worry about financial damages. At such times companies do not worry much about anything else other than legalizations and recovering the damages through insurance. It is the job of the people to remind the companies that what they build may be important to them but the damage it causes to the environment is equally important to everyone in the community.

The Spectra Pipeline was projected to go online in November 2013. Once in force, it would be a major risk factor to the West Village residents. The West Village is a vibrant community which has a major cultural and socioeconomic aspect to it.

Other than just environmental, the second most important factor is health and safety. Poisoning of the local water supply and the air is one of the most critical factors that no company usually takes into account while building a pipeline. Contamination of the water sources can cause the chemical to get into the drinking water supply, which can lead to various kinds of poisoning, including organophosphate poisoning, lead poisoning, cadmium poisoning and the like. What should be noted here is the effects of this kind of contamination will not be seen immediately, but if ignored the chemical which can cause damage to the body will keep building up in minute amounts till it has reached a toxic level, and in some cases, by the time the contaminant starts showing symptoms, it has reached a critical stage and can even be fatal.

Poisoning the air can have a much faster impact on the citizens than can be imagined. As of now, the Spectra pipeline transmits high levels of radon gas from the Marcellus Shale into the community of the New Yorkers. Their homes and businesses, social sites and everything else are being exposed to the gas. Radon poisoning is not to be taken lightly. It is highly toxic and the Center for Disease Control has declared radon as the second most important factor for lung cancer after smoking. The worst part is that it is impossible to identify the levels of radon gas in the air. Usually detectors use chemicals to react with the gas in the air to signal the levels. Radon, however, is a neutral gas and does not react with any chemical at a molecular level. Therefore, it is virtually undetectable and can keep building up in the environment without anyone being able to quantify it.

And that doesn’t even cover the bigger picture. Allowing such pipelines to exist only broadens our dependence range on the necessity of fossil fuels. We cease to care about the fact that these fossil fuels contaminate our air, water and food and on a larger level are causing global ramifications that cannot even be imagined. So it’s time to act, and act fast.

Brent Wheeler

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