2005dec30_lngco_pushesahead.htmlTEXTR*ch2%I-t LNG company pushes ahead -- Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB

The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2005 December 30

LNG company pushes ahead


ST. ANDREWS — Downeast LNG say they will work with the people of the region, including Canadians, to build a state-of-the-art liquefied natural gas terminal that is safe, environmentally friendly and provides good jobs as well as economic opportunities for local residents.

The proposed project would occupy a portion of the 80-acre site in Robbinston, Me., at Mill Cove across the St. Croix River from St. Andrews. The town of St. Andrews, along with other towns and villages in Charlotte County, have voiced their opposition to any LNG terminals in Passamaquoddy Bay.

In an information pamphlet that has been circulated in Charlotte County, the company notes that the physical structures associated with their site represent a small scale model LNG import terminal and include a 3,800 to 4,000 foot pier with mounting dolphins for an LNG ship, a loading platform on the pier, one full containment LNG storage tank, a closed-loop regasification unit (this system regasifies LNG without using sea water), small support buildings and an access road.

Once operational, Downeast LNG expects to receive shipments once every eight to ten days in the summer and once every five to seven days in the winter months. Ships will unload LNG in 14 hours before departing.

The company say they believe that by working in partnership with the whole community, openly sharing information and listening to the concerns and interests of all stakeholders, they can make this a landmark project that benefits the entire region.

"We have heard from fishermen, tour operators, ferry services, salmon growers, and many others in both the U.S. and Canada, and we welcome the opportunity to hear your concerns and discuss ways to ensure that our operations do not adversely affect existing or future business operations or community interests."

In addition to many public meeting and ongoing stakeholder dialogue, Downeast LNG say they are committed to open communication which includes monthly newsletters, public seminars, information bulletins in local papers, meetings with individuals and interest groups (i.e. fishermen's groups) over the years to come. Information is also available at www.downseastlng.com

Their operations will not require the discharge of process chemicals or other pollutants into the St. Croix River or Passamaquoddy Bay, says the company.

"We have specifically designed an operation that will not have these types of environmental impacts. The plant will also be quiet, as are most LNG import terminal operations.

"We are taking special efforts to minimize all facility lighting, including the use of low candlelight yellow bulbs and inward casting directional lamps - thus we will have minimal and non-intrusive lighting requirements.

"There will be no power turbine units at the plant to warm the LNG and only very, very limited air emissions from facility pumps and equipment. Absolutely no power generation or co-generation for off- site use will occur as part of our project."

The company says the site is uniquely suited to accommodate the necessary structures with minimal visual impact from either Route 1 in Maine or from St. Andrews.

They say they have given special consideration to this issue and have developed a site plan that leaves natural vegetation on the waterfront as well as behind the storage tank which will be painted a green treescape to further enhance landscape blending.

They say the site is sufficiently sloped such that natural vegetation on the higher treeline of Robbinston Ridge serves as a backdrop to the project minimizing the visual impact upon St. Andrews.

"This reduction in impact is significant compared to other tank structures that might appear unmasked or on the ridgeline itself. As noted above, the project is being designed to keep lighting at a minimum and will use inward facing and low dispersion lights.

"The most visible aspect of the project will be the ship itself, which will be present only when it is in port and at a distance of more than two miles from St. Andrews. Much of St. Andrews' view of even the ship will be blocked by an island."

Dealing with concerns over the navigational issues, Downeast LNG say their preliminary studies indicate that the proposed route can be safely navigated and is, in fact, wider than any of the other approaches to LNG terminals currently operating in the U.S.

"But it is not our studies that will make the decision on safety - it is the review and decision responsibility of other experts and government agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard. This is just one of many checks and balances built into the permitting and review process to ensure the soundness and safety of the project."

The company says it is important to note that no ships are brought into the bay without local pilots (U.S. and Canadian) on board and in control. They say these pilots understand the unique characteristics and currents of the local waters and are experienced in bringing large ships (more than 850 feet long) through these channels as they transit to piers in Eastport and at Bayside.

"More than 100 ships navigate these same waters safely every year. For at least a year prior to any of our project ships arriving at the terminal, extensive simulation exercises will be conducted with the US Coast Guard, Transport Canada and the local pilots to ensure full conditions training and practice."

Downeast LNG say the transit of LNG ships throughout the Pacific and Atlantic shorelines of the U.S. and near sensitive environments has been an ongoing practice for decades that has caused no environmental damage or resulted in damage to special species populations.

"There is no factual reason to believe that our project's ships would change that successful record."

They say LNG ships are the only ones that voluntarily include spotters to avoid interference or collision with marine species like whales, turtles and even manatees. Secondly, they say, the transit of ships will be no different in routing than that which is already done in the region to avoid sensitive whale areas.

Thirdly, they say it it entirely possible and probable, to coordinate LNG ship and whale watching traffic so as to completely avoid interference with either. Finally the company note that there is no factual basis known to them that the use of a waterway for LNG ship transit, or the existence of an LNG terminal miles away, has ever caused any decrease in tourism.

The company says that since the U.S. natural gas industry was deregulated in the 1990s, the task of identifying and developing natural gas project sites was shifted to the private sector.

"As such, project developers actually assume an enormous amount of risk to bring projects such as this to life. There are more than 50 state and federal permits to be obtained, and development of a detailed environmental impact study (EIS) by the lead government agency (in this case, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC) is required under NEPA.

"Other agencies such as the U.S. EPA, the Coast Guard, the Corps of Engineers and the State of Maine may also join and participate in the EIS preparation task."

Downeast LNG says the many ongoing environmental, engineering and transportation safety studies that are referenced in their monthly newsletters are the core of this permitting and EIS process which takes up to two or three years or more and all studies are independently verified by the government.

Once a draft EIS is completed, it is made available to the public for a thorough review and scrutiny and a series of public hearings are scheduled during which public comments are collected. Comments can also be delivered in writing and all comments are independently addressed by the government.

"Only after extensive analysis, comment consideration and response, and a final assessment, will a recommendation for the project to proceed (with conditions) or a denial of the project's certification be issued by the government. Even after that, numerous individual permits from a plethora of agencies will have to be applied for, reviewed, commented upon and decided."


© 2005 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.

The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB