Thursday, October 14, 2010

Clams On The Half-Baked Shell

Where's The Special Shellfish District When We Need One?

Last year, we reported on the Town of Hempstead's "pet" project to nurture Long Island's clam population using solar, wind, and, yes, the strength of the town's borrowing power. [READ, Inherit The Wind (And The Sun, Too).]

Well, the Town tells us that the environmentally-nurtured baby clams (they live better lives than most of us) are a-hatchin, and in record numbers.

And here you thought that Town of Hempstead Supervisor Kate Murray was only interested in clambakes and clamdestine, behind the scenes, political wheeling and dealing.

Wrong again, Crustacean breath!

Under the sea, and right here on the shores of the Great South Bay, the Town of Hempstead is growing clams in their state of the art "green" nursery (no, not the seaweed), with officials no doubt waiting by the clams' bedside, hoping to catch them at first shuck, registering each and every little hard-shelled denizen of the deep as a Republican.

Glad to see that the clams are doing well -- thriving, in fact -- in Hempstead Town. Too bad the same can't be said for the town's homeowners and taxpayers, many of whom are seeing too little green, and just barely keeping their heads above water.

Aw, clam up, Town of Hempsteaders! Don't be so darn shellfish. The world may not be your oyster, but at least our baby mollusks are on the job, ready to keep Long Island's waters clean, and to adorn Kate's plate at next year's Festival By The Sea. [If only they could find a way to tax 'em. . .]
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From The Town of Hempstead:

Sun, Wind & Sea:

First Batch of Baby Clams Raised in Hempstead's Solar/Wind Powered Nursery Released Into Bay

Hempstead Town has been busy raising babies? baby clams, that is! At a press conference in Point Lookout, Supervisor Kate Murray and Councilwoman Angie Cullin unveiled the first full batch of "test tube" babies, millions of hard shell clams that were nurtured in a scientifically controlled environment powered by solar and wind energy. Staffers at the town's shellfish nursery prepared and released millions of the young mollusks into Hempstead Bay, an activity that is beneficial to the ecosystem and the local shellfish industry. Joining Murray and Cullin at the seaside ceremony were Town Clerk Mark Bonilla; Receiver of Taxes Don Clavin; Ed Thomas, Hempstead Shellfishermen's Association; and Mike Deering, LIPA's Vice President of Environmental Affairs.

Raising and cultivating "baby" clams is important to support the local shellfish industry, provide area recreation and, most importantly, keep waterways healthy with natural marine life that filters our bays. As filter feeders, hard shell clams are a critical species that maintain and potentially improve water quality.

"The Town of Hempstead has been really innovative in the development of this state-of-the-art shellfish nursery," announced Murray. "The clams that we release today will help keep our waterways cleaner as they filter our bay water. What's more, we're treading lightly on the planet, producing no carbon footprint to generate the power required to raise these clams."

The solar and wind powered shellfish nursery allows scientists to raise "seed" clams to deposit in local beds. Maintaining the hard shell clam population in our bays is closely linked to the ecological health of our local bodies of water. Utilizing a $180,000 contract from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and $60,000 in funding from LIPA, the new FLUPSY system is an entirely self-sustaining design. FLUPSY (Floating Upweller System) supports a shellfish grow-out process that provides a controlled environment that force-feeds nutrient rich water to infant shellfish, allowing them to grow more quickly with a higher survival rate. The clean energy technology and the innovative design of the shellfish nursery have eliminated energy costs at the facility, while increasing its ability to raise shellfish by 900%. The town's new FLUPSY is producing nine million hard clams in its first year of operations. Hempstead's old facility raised one million clams annually.

"LIPA is pleased to have worked with Supervisor Kate Murray and the Town of Hempstead to bring this important energy efficient and environmentally conscious project, which will help to replenish our shellfish population to fruition," said LIPA Vice President of Environmental Affairs Michael J. Deering. "The only way we can ever truly be successful in maximizing energy efficiency and advancing clean renewable technology is through partnerships like this one with committed community and government leaders."

NYSERDA's Senior Project Manager, Miriam Pye, said, "NYSERDA commends the Town of Hempstead for its initiative to find an innovative approach to enhancing economic development while improving the environment and reducing energy use. We are proud to provide support to such a worthy and successful project."

At the core of meeting the energy needs of the shellfish nursery are two sets of photovoltaic panels that produce 10 kilowatts of power. The solar energy system is complemented by a wind turbine that adds 2.4 kilowatts of power to meet the facility's energy needs. In total, the green energy systems are producing over 23 megawatts of power per year, preventing almost 28,000 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) from being released into the atmosphere (annually). From a financial perspective, the green energy technology is saving an estimated $5,800 in energy costs per year while the wind and solar systems are actually turning surplus green power back to LIPA's energy grid.

"Our town's shellfish nursery is energy efficient and environmentally responsible," noted Cullin. "Equally important, this facility demonstrates to the local scientific community and area residents that renewable energy has practical applications. Indeed, the range of clean energy opportunities is continuing to expand greatly."

"As local baymen we are very pleased to work with the Town of Hempstead to put seed clams in the bay," said Ed Thomas, Vice President of the Hempstead Shellfisherman's Association. "We have a great symbiotic relationship with the town. We work hand in hand with the same goals."

The efficacy of the town's shellfish nursery has been enhanced as a result of the dramatically increased level of output. The facility's production has escalated through collaboration with Nassau County, the Town of Islip and the Hempstead Shellfishermen's Association. All of these partners have contributed "seed" clams to the facility. In the case of Islip Town, Hempstead's shellfish operation receives seed clams from the Suffolk town in exchange for a return share of the mature clams to be deposited in south shore waters.

Hempstead Town is at the forefront of environmental responsibility and has spearheaded several initiatives including utilizing solar energy at three government buildings, employing wind energy at Norman J. Levy Park and Preserve, utilizing electric cars among various town departments and unveiling Long Island's first fleet of natural gas taxis. Additionally, the Conservation and Waterways Department hosts a self-relying "green" energy solar house, and has recently completed a fueling station that will provide pure hydrogen, blended hydrogen compressed natural gas, as well as pure natural gas for a variety of vehicles.

"Raising babies has never been so good for the environment," concluded Murray. "As we nurture baby clams to deposit in area bays, we are helping support an important maritime industry, keeping our waterways clean and demonstrating important practical applications for green energy. I want to thank NYSERDA, LIPA, the Hempstead Shellfishermen's Association and all of our partners for helping to build a cleaner planet for generations to come."

1 comment:

  1. Of course, one thing that I'm sure didn't get mentioned by our Town leaders was that the State Department of Environmental Conservation just issued an order restricting access to the available clambeds between the Wantagh and Meadowbrook Parkways, as a result of elevated toxicity levels in the water. Clams do act as a natural filter, cleansing impurities from the water. But like all filters, these impurities get captured in shellfish, and can thus lead to some rather unpleasant consequences if they're eaten.