2010-05-06 / Letters to the Editor

Jamestowners, speak up on LNG!

Last week’s issue of the Jamestown Press highlighting the need for the people of Jamestown to engage in the struggle to save Narragansett Bay from a LNG facility struck a vital nerve for me.

Six years ago, my late husband and I attended several of the area-wide hearings at which offi- cials presented their plans to establish a LNG facility at Weaver’s Cove. Be- ing thwarted in their efforts there by the inability of LNG outsized tankers to transit under existing bridges, they turned instead to the site of Mt. Hope Bay.

Both locations demanded access for these outsized tankers to transit Narragansett Bay, with exclusion zones policed by Coast Guard vessels in the entire transit. On each of those transits, the affected bridges – Pell and Mt. Hope – would have to be shut down to all traffic for that period of transit for safety’s sake.

Furthermore, any protection needed by the towns lining the way requiring police or other efforts would have to be funded by each town affected. These additional efforts are all required by a profit-driven industry – headquartered far from this area and driven by profit goals, not necessity.

If approved, a decision to proceed will have a profound and devastating effect long-term on the very nature of this area and its existing and successful industries.

In Webster’s Dictionary, the definition of an “accident” is described as “an unforeseen event.” One needs only to learn of the catastrophic oil explosion and fire in the Gulf of Mexico and the nowpredictable harm to the coastlines of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida to grasp the signifi cance of risk.

For all easy assurances of safety, there is never a foolproof guarantee of safety. To deny the risks posed by LNG tanker transit here is to close one’s mind to the knowledge of previous events in Narragansett Bay.

Within the last few years, an automobile ship entering the narrow mouth of the Bay near Castle Hill suddenly lost its steering mechanism. With its forward momentum, it lurched out of control to the Jamestown shore and ended up within yards of a private home.

Even if it had been escorted by a Coast Guard vessel, its momentum could not have been stopped quickly enough to correct its course.

In the late 1950s, there was a determined effort by Commerce Oil Company to establish an oil refi nery at the east end of Eldred Avenue, the story of which may not be known by those who have become residents here more recently. That company began buying up land preparatory to publicizing its intentions and presenting it as the most desirable financial opportunity for residents of Jamestown.

Only the vigorous efforts of a small group of citizens were able to thwart that project, though in the process, 16 of those residents were sued unsuccessfully by the oil company for over a million dollars each.

Imagine what the properties of this island and bay would be now if that refinery had become a reality here. Fortuitously, the fiery collision of two large vessels in heavy fog off of Rose Island was a sobering reality of potential risk.

Decisions having such a vital impact on the lives of an entire area require the vision, knowledge and wisdom of those who live, work and treasure this particular area. It is, without doubt, the deepest natural harbor on the East Coast, providing multiple opportunities for appropriate industry, tourism, recreation and enjoyment, all of which are vitally threatened should this venture proceed.

Take heed, Jamestowners, and speak up. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Constance Andrews

Return to top