2006-08-03 / News

Council slates LNG proposal workshop

By Dotti Farrington

The Town Council has scheduled a special workshop to hear a presentation by Weaver's Cove officials on their proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in Fall River, Mass.

Intended as a public informational workshop, the session is planned for Wednesday, Aug. 30, at 6:30 p.m. at the town library.

Weaver's Cove officials initiated an invitation for a joint meeting apparently in response to the council's ongoing opposition to its Fall River plan, as well as to the KeySpan effort to expand its existing LNG terminal in Providence.

In June, Marcia MacClary, director of public affairs for Weaver's Cove, wrote to David Long, president of the Town Council, that "we at Weaver's Cove have noted with dismay the amount of partial or inaccurate information presented to the public. As this is a timely and important issue for residents of Jamestown, we would welcome the opportunity to meet with the council, present current information about our project, listen to issues and concerns and answer questions that the council may have."

In agreeing to a meeting, the councilors said they especially hope the meeting would bring some information to them. In several discussions, councilors have expressed disbelief about claims that LNG tankers could travel in Narragansett Bay safely and without disrupting the economy of waterfront communities such as Jamestown.

The councilors here, and officials elsewhere, have also questioned the lack of information available about funding to communities for safety services to prevent problems, to hire and train staff to respond to possible problems. The main problems feared are disasters associated with terrorism and possible fires on the tankers or at the terminal itself. LNG is highly volitile.

The councilors have been skeptical about other aspects of the development of any LNG terminal and its impacts on local taxpayers.

The Weaver's Cove plan has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, but it is being challenged in court by the city of Fall River and by the Nature Conservancy. The terminal also needs permits from the state Coastal Resources Management Council in regard to water quality and from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineering for dredging.

FERC officials said the Fall River and Providence projects are among 40 LNG terminals being proposed throughout the nation. The officials state on their Web site that "the market ultimately determines whether an approved LNG terminal is ever built. Even if an LNG terminal project receives all (government) approvals, it still must meet complicated global issues surrounding financing, gas supply, and market conditions. Many industry analysts predict that only 12 of the 40 LNG terminals being considered will ever be built."

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