2007-04-26 / Front Page

Council's LNG opposition sent to Coast Guard

By Dotti Farrington

Town Councilors ratified a letter of opposition Monday prepared by Council President David Long about ongoing work to site a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at Weaver's Cove in Fall River, Mass.

Long cited the town's lengthy and consistent opposition to the LNG efforts.

The new letter was directed to Coast Guard Capt. Roy Nash about the council's opposition to recent navigation and security information filed by Weaver's Cove. The LNG data presents changes in the proposed project, according to Long.

"We understand your office intends to issue a decision on this proposed project change very soon," Long wrote to Nash. "The Coast Guard's letter of recommendation on waterway suitability is an extremely important decision to the future viability of this project and the whole region," he continued.

"The Town Council of the Town of Jamestown has consistently opposed the Weaver's Cove LNG proposal and writes this letter to inform you of our ongoing opposition to this project based on the negative environmental, economic and disruptive navigational and recreational impacts this project will have on Narragansett Bay and our community," according to the letter.

"The council believes that the proposed project poses unacceptable risks from the standpoint of navigational safety, environmental quality, and bay security. The council respectfully requests that you consider our comments and opposition in your deliberations on this important issue," Long stated.

He said that he and his colleagues understand that state Attorney General Patrick Lynch "has requested the opportunity to allow independent navigation safety and security experts to review and comment on the plan."

Long concluded, "While we have great confidence in the Coast Guard to make this decision independently, we hope you will consider the input of other stakeholders and experts before issuing your final ruling on this critical matter."

State opposition

State Representative Bruce Long, (R-Jamestown, Middletown), during his report on state issues, also joined in the renewed opposition to LNG efforts that affect the area. He observed that developers repeatedly propose projects and revisions. "They have to win only once. We have to win every one," the legislator said.

A court appeal, in First U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston with the Nature Conservatory as a lead challenger, is still pending on the 2005-06 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approvals of the Fall River project.

Weaver's Cove officers said at an industry forum several days ago that they are optimistic about gaining all needed permits and winning the court case but acknowledged that opposition has added about $100 million in costs to the originally budgeted $400 million development plans.

Coast Guard role

The Coast Guard is reviewing a long-awaited filing in March by Weaver's Cove about its latest plans to bring LNG tankers into Narragansett and Mount Hope Bays and the Taunton River. Nash said a Coast Guard letter of recom- mendation either for or against the project is due later in the spring.

A year ago, the Coast Guard ordered a revised plan about LNG shipping after Weaver's Cove said it would use smaller tankers after Massachusetts said it would not demolish the old Brightman Street Bridge. The larger tankers would need the bridge removed so they can have enough room to maneuver, according to opponents. Smaller ships would mean more trips, causing even more disruption on the waterways and for shoreline communities, opponents have explained.

Weaver's Cove LNG is also awaiting an Army Corps of Engineering decision about plans to dredge nearly three million cubic yards of sediment from Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River.

Federal report

Among other recent LNG related activities, the Federal Government Accountability Office issued its congressional report finding that fire from an LNG tanker could produce heat, not flames or explosions, that would burn people one mile away. The study urged the US Energy Office to perform new research on the risks from a major fire or gas release in terror attacks or natural disasters on such tanker ships.

The US Congressional Homeland Security Committee last month asked the Coast Guard to review its position about having enough resources to deal with LNG activities, Including applications for 10 new mainland facilities and five offshore depots. Rear Admiral Brian M. Salerno, Coast Guard director of inspection and compliance, responded that his office was reviewing concerns.

Officials at FERC, with authority over LNG operations, said no facilities would be approved without emergency response plans and other security features.

Save the Bay

Save The Bay is among several organizations opposing the LNG project because of dredging as well as security zones for the tankers while in area waterways. It recently launched its own website for opposition, www.stopweaverscove. com.

Save the Bay concerns about dredging include that it will stir up sediment known to be contaminated with mercury; fill Rhode Island Sound with dredged materials not appropriate for the naturally coarser substrate at the disposal site; and deplete oxygen in the water channel, causing irreversible harm to aquatic life.

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