2010-07-15 / News

LNG: More than just three letters

LNG Threat
By Dick Lynn

I watched the start of the Newport Bermuda race recently. Boats lined up throughout the Bay, ready to make the run.

Just three letters were missing on that day: LNG.

If a LNG tanker had come up the Bay at that point, all of the boats would have had to leave the Bay.

We’ve certainly heard a lot about LNG, so much that we assume everyone knows all about it. Here are some facts for those who haven’t heard:

• LNG is natural gas, harvested in foreign countries, liquified by cooling it to minus 270 degrees Fahrenheit and compressed 600 times.

• LNG tankers are approximately the length of three football fields, and as high and wide as one football field. If you were at the peak of the Mt. Hope Bridge, you could literally reach out and touch it, five feet below the peak of the span.

• LNG tankers would transit our Bay approximately 140 times a year – nearly every other day.

• A tanker can carry nearly 5 million cubic feet of LNG. Decompressed, this amounts to approximately 3 billion cubic feet of natural gas. Because of this potential, when a tanker transits the East Passage, it will be surrounded by a three-mile security zone. Some of this security zone will include land in our towns, not just in the water.

• On the water, when this security zone is in effect, a tanker’s passage will be unannounced, and whoever is in the Bay will have to leave immediately. The Coast Guard surrounds these massive vessels with gun boats. Helicopters often accompany them.

• RIPTA will close the Mt. Hope and Pell Bridges. Delays could be from 25 to 45 minutes. Hess says tankers will come in unannounced and in the dark; in fact, they have to come in at high tide.

• No one has said what security measures would be in landed areas in our towns. No security plan has been given to the public.

• A purge in the tanks could expand LNG and turn it quickly to gas. It could be uneventful, or it could be devastating.

• Richard Clarke, former head of counter-terrorism, has written that LNG tankers would likely be terrorist targets and should never be sited in populated areas. The terminal would be sited in a populated area and tankers would be going past such strategic sites as the Undersea Warfare Center and the Naval War College. If our towns must handle security for these tankers, it will add to the costs of law enforcement.

• The floating terminal in Mt. Hope Bay will be the size of a tanker in width and length and is six stories tall. The tanker docked next to it will be 13 stories high. It will take up much of Mt. Hope Bay.

• Other inland sites that have been approved by FERC have had a permanent security zone declared by the Coast Guard. This happened recently in Galveston Harbor.

• There would be approximately 4.5 miles of untested cryogenic pipeline under the Bay.

• The tankers are owned by a separate company, Poten and Partners. The division of liability and ownership on this project would be similar to the division we have seen in the BP disaster.

• There are existing LNG facilities sited 10 or more miles offshore, such as one in Gloucester. Hess could do this.

• We have enough entities serving our region, from Gloucester to Canaport to newly discovered shale gas.

• Dredging will result in the loss of approximately 73 acres of fish and shellfish habitat.

• Despite job claims by Hess, larger facilities elsewhere employ approximately 35 specialized people to run them. Similar facilities to the one proposed hire fewer employees.

When you look at all of these facts – and you look at what we could lose in jobs in other industries – there is no reason to cede our bay to Hess at the cost of everyone else. This is truly the socialization of risk to the people for the privatization of profit for Hess.

Resources and sites to visit

• Save Bristol Harbor’s security zone model: www.SaveBristolHarbor. com

• A security risk management analysis for Attorney General Patrick Lynch by Good Harbor Consulting (Richard Clarke), www.goodharbor.net/media/images/ books/pdf-liquid-naturalgas report.pdf

• Broadwater Fire Modeling: Report by DNC Consulting for TransCanada PipeLines, March, 2006

• University of Rhode Island Ocean Engineering Seminar study on LNG, www.ocean.oce. uri.edu

• Aquidneck Island Planning Commission economic impact study, www.aquidneckplanning. org/lng.html

• No LNG in the Narragansett Bay, Facebook

• Save the Bay environmental study, www.savebay.org

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