MEATPACKING DISTRICT — Police arrested City Council candidate Corey Johnson and 12 other people for blocking off the West Side Highway Saturday, to protest the Spectra natural gas pipeline.
Johnson — who is expected to easily win the City Council seat representing Chelsea, Hell's Kitchen, and the Village on Tuesday — was arrested one day after the new pipeline began pumping roughly 800 million cubic feet of Marcellus Shale natural gas into the city each day.
"Fracking is dangerous and these pipelines are solely about money and profits — we need renewable energy!" Johnson wrote on his Facebook page after the arrest.
The protesters, who blocked the West Side Highway at Gansevoort Street early Saturday afternoon, hoped to raise public awareness about their concerns about radon coming from the underground pipeline. The chemical element found in the gas can cause lung cancer, opponents of the pipeline said.
"Now that construction at the pier is completed, you can't tell anything is there," said Clare Donohue of the Sane Energy Project, which organized the protest. "We wanted people jogging, biking and using the park to understand the pipeline is there and turned on."
Opponents of the pipeline, including Johnson, managed to briefly block off the highway with a large "Shut Down the Pipeline!" banner before police picked them up. They spent about two hours at the NYPD's 6th Precinct station house and were issued summonses before being released, Donohue said.
Earlier in the day, the demonstrators were joined by Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, who is sponsoring a bill in Albany that would help authorities monitor and mitigate radon, along with Assemblyman Dick Gottfried and Manhattan Borough President candidate Gale Brewer.
The group spent much of the morning writing chalk warnings on the sidewalk, hoping to inform passersby about the pipeline.
Spectra and the NYPD did not immediately respond to requests for comment.