2005 August 12
by Marie Jones Holmes
As part of a series of community meetings, Dean Girdis and Robert Wyatt of Downeast LNG held a meeting July 28 in Eastport to discuss the company's plans to construct a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at Mill Cove in the community of Robbinston. The proposed 80-acre site is near where the St. Croix River meets Passamaquoddy Bay in Robbinston. The facility will consist of a new pier and several small support buildings and one or two storage tanks.
Seventeen people including only four Eastport residents attended the meeting, many questioning the safety of the project. Eastport resident Jon Bragdon expressed serious concerns about the safety of the project, citing past explosions at LNG facilities and the dangers of tanker traffic in a restricted area and the turning radius in Eastport waters as ships traveled from Head Harbour Passage to Mill Cove. Others were concerned about the increased terrorist dangers.
Girdis said many of the conditions cited by Bragdon are not applicable to today's tankers and terminals. According to Girdis, Downeast LNG has researched numerous potential LNG sites throughout Maine and New England over the past year. "Based on minimal environment impact, community support and technical characteristics, we believe that our site in Robbinston is the best available site," stated Girdis. Many of those in attendance did not share Girdis's views of Robbinston as the best site.
In response to questions about the effect of road traffic on Route 1, Girdis said given the relatively low traffic volume, construction and operation of the site are not expected to generate enough additional volume to impact current traffic flows. Studies will be conducted to ensure that potential disruptions to traffic are mitigated or eliminated. Downeast LNG has identified three preliminary potential routes to connect the facility to the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline system at the Baileyville compressor station. The company will be conducting further studies to assess the different options. "All landowners will be compensated for any request for rights-of-way," stated Girdis.
Most people attending the meeting were Perry or Robbinston residents. Several people in attendance raised questions about the effect of an LNG facility on homeowner property values immediately adjacent to the site. Girdis said in similar rural situations, properties within the local and adjacent communities have actually seen their values rise given the increase in housing needs, the elimination of property taxes, and a beneficial increase in the quantity and quality of community services. "If the opposite condition arises at our project, there will be compensation offered to all local properties immediately adjacent to the LNG facility either on land or in close proximity to the pier whose values are negatively affected during construction or the operation of the LNG facility," stated Girdis.
Wyatt said there are many legal and environmental impact studies to be prepared for the proposed project. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) governs the manner in which the public at large can participate in the decision-making process. A detailed Environmental Impact Statement is required from the company, in accordance with state and federal guidelines.
August 12, 2005