2006 February 24
by Dorinda Davis, Eileen Curry and Eileen Clark
Three information sessions by Quoddy Bay LNG concerning its plans to construct a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility at Split Rock at Pleasant Point and a storage facility in Perry were met with a range of responses from strong hostility on Campobello Island to questions about ship transit and vehicle traffic in Perry and queries about the pipeline in Charlotte.
There was standing room only at the February 17 meeting on Campobello, with over 100 people attending. After Cary Weston of Quoddy Bay LNG's public relations firm stated that they would be giving a presentation about the proposed facility, several people stated that they did not want to see the presentation. Gary Cook of Campobello called for a vote on the LNG terminal, with almost everyone indicating that they are opposed to the proposal. One person raised his hand in support of the project. "It's pretty sad when you guys who are trying to push this on us are too afraid to raise your own hands," commented Cook. He added, "Any politician who would agree to this LNG facility in this area should be put on the end of a rope."
Calvin Chute of Campobello then told the Quoddy Bay LNG representatives, "Go away. We don't want you here. Remember, the Titanic was unsinkable, and where is it now?"
Another islander, Bernie Lukco, commented, "FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] will never be invited to Canadian soil for a meeting. What are the people of Campobello or anyone in Charlotte County getting out of your facility being built?"
When those in attendance were asked if they wanted to see the presentation, the overwhelming response was that they did not.
Ralph Brown of Campobello read a letter on behalf of fishermen who are against the LNG project. "Our fishing industry will be hurt. Six hundred to nine hundred people will be affected in Charlotte County. There will be limits placed on fishermen, on when and where to fish. How do you propose to replace the many millions of dollars being lost by families?"
He also read a letter from Greg Thompson, MP for New Brunswick Southwest, who is opposed, as is the Canadian government, to the LNG project and the passage of LNG tankers in the Head Harbour Passage. He stated that he is committed to this position and will do all that can be done to prevent this project from happening.
Brian Smith of Quoddy Bay LNG stated, "If we find that we cannot legally bring in ships through the waters, then we will not build the facility or bring ships in." Mack Greene of Campobello observed, "If an experienced naval boat operator has problems coming up the passage on a nice day in the middle of the summer, how will LNG tankers, which are a lot larger, manage in the middle of the winter on rough days in miserable or foggy weather? What happens when it gets turned sideways in the channel and cannot get turned around? It has to go somewhere, and that will be into the rocks or shore, then what?"
Terry Greene of Campobello asked, "Do you expect us as Canadians to put our lives and the lives of our children on the line? Here on Campobello the Head Harbour Lighthouse is set to become a Provincial Heritage Site. The Roosevelt park is the only international park in the world. All profits for this LNG will be going into the States, so why should we have to risk our lives for you?"
Another Campobello resident, Amanda Matthews, stated, "Grandfather owns a successful aquaculture site on Campobello, and there are other sites here as well. We will be affected by the exclusion zones, since there is not much room from the site to where tankers will be coming through. If no boats are allowed to be in the waters near the tankers, how can we go to the cage sites to feed the fish? We cannot swim there. We also travel to St. Andrews and Deer Island by boat for delivery of eggs or smolts. How can we do this if we cannot take boats out?" She was told that boats can operate if they do not pose a threat to the LNG ships and are not in the near vicinity. "The passage is not that wide, so any boat in the water would be in the near vicinity," she replied.
A U.S. Coast Guard representative, Alan Moore, who was present as an observer, made the statement that when dealing with safety zones the U.S. Coast Guard could not issue a security zone in Canadian waters.
People were told that if they wanted their voice to be heard, they could write or go to a website for FERC and make their opinions known. These comments would become part of public record. Also they could attend the public meeting sometime in March, during which all comments would be part of the public record.
At the informational meeting in Perry two nights earlier, on February 15, Quoddy Bay LNG representatives were able to make their presentation. About 140 people listened as Project Manager Brian Smith gave a general overview of the project, siting the benefits of the proposal packages for Pleasant Point and the Town of Perry. Smith told the group that Quoddy Bay LNG entered into a Ground Lease Agreement with the tribe that amounts to a $75,000 initial payment made at the beginning of the permitting period. Payments equal to $46,875 every three months during the process and ending at the start of construction would total $187,500 a year; payments equal to $562,500 every three months during construction and ending at the start of operation would total $2,250,000 per year; and payments of $6,000,000 to $12,000,000 per year would be made during operations depending on the actual "throughput" of gas.
Quoddy Bay LNG pledged to develop an incentive plan for the Town of Perry, committing $1 million annually to the town to fund several community projects. Upon completion of the LNG project, the storage facility would add approximately $250 million worth of taxable property to the town, lowering taxes by approximately 70%. Quoddy Bay LNG would also provide a hiring preference at the Perry storage facility to applicants from Perry on a similar basis as applicants from the Pleasant Point Reservation.
Smith and a board of representatives from Quoddy Bay LNG, TRC Environmental, TRC Security, Quoddy Pilots USA, and Coler and Colantonin, a pipeline engineering firm, answered questions about the project, safety and security of ship transit, pipeline proposals and environmental concerns. FERC representatives were also attending the informational meeting.
Smith noted the "insufficient demand, high prices of fuel and expected shortages of fuel" across New England and elsewhere in the U.S. that would be a factor in accepting the addition of an LNG facility. "The facility and the jobs created would also attract our educated children to return here. It would improve the economy throughout Washington County."
Some concerns were aired about lobster fishing and lost wages during waterway usage by the large tankers. Local fishermen at the meeting were assured by Captain Jerzy Kichner of TRC Security that "all that has been taken into account. We think that the ship traffic will not affect it, and the U.S. Coast Guard will maintain these waters and keep us informed." Captain Gerald Morrison of Quoddy Pilots USA answered questions about ship transit through Head Harbour as well as berthing at the Split Rock pier. "The ships will have one escort and three tugs, not all abreast. They'll be in a straight and narrow line." Morrison said he did not see a question of heavy fog visibility hampering the travel route. "We've had fog before and we've brought them in."
A resident of Eastport wanted to know if the company had an evacuation or emergency plan in case of an accident or "spill." Kichner explained that local emergency authorities would be asked to work with Quoddy Bay LNG to make sure a plan was in place. According to Smith, the cost of an LNG emergency service plan for Eastport would be assumed by Quoddy Bay LNG.
Some concerns were voiced against the need for "three facilities" in Washington County, a need for Perry Planning Board approval for the project, land acquisition along the pipeline route and the safety of the right whale, their habitat and feeding grounds. The issues are all being investigated, according to officials from TRC Environmental Permitting.
Another concern from residents of Eastport was how would people get off the island during construction. Smith said that the construction at Split Rock would "cause no significant disruption on Route 190. We may have to close down and have one lane of traffic during some part of the construction. We do not anticipate any obstruction of traffic. If we did, we could have ferries shuttle people back and forth if we had to."
Smith also said that if there were some unforeseen accident or problem at Split Rock it would not affect residents of Eastport. "It would be contained to Split Rock. It would be like closing off traffic temporarily for a car wreck on Route 190."
The following evening, approximately 75 people attended the Quoddy Bay LNG meeting at the Charlotte Elementary School. People from Alexander, Charlotte, Pembroke and Princeton attended the meeting to learn about how their towns would be affected. Informational booths were set up where people were able to collect information, and maps were displayed showing where the proposed pipeline would be placed.
Later, a panel of nine people assembled at the front of the group, and several people spoke about the pipeline and answered any questions that were asked. Most of the questions were concerning the pipeline installation. People were told that once the pipeline is put in place it is covered and seeded and would be mowed every two years. There would be approximately 35 miles of pipeline laid for this project that will connect from the Perry storage facility to the Maritimes & Northeast pipeline in Baileyville. A man from Princeton said that the company had been a very good neighbor for the town and hoped that everyone would find Quoddy Bay LNG to be the same. Some environmental issues were discussed, but most people were not against the building of the pipeline but were at the meeting mainly to gain information.
The informational meetings held in surrounding towns were part of the mandatory FERC pre-filing process and federal permitting schedule. The process allows all parties interested and involved to review the project details and provide input to the development prior to Quoddy Bay's filing a formal permit application with local, state and federal governments. Because of a death in the Sipayik community, a planned session at Pleasant Point was cancelled, out of respect for the family and the Passamaquoddy Tribe. Another presentation there will be announced soon.
Following the meetings, Quoddy Bay LLC, the company developing the $500 million Quoddy Bay LNG facility, described the open houses as a success. "We'd hoped that our neighbors would take us up on our offer to meet, to learn and to share ideas and concerns," said Brian Smith. "We designed these open houses to offer information about the project, to gather public comments and to help refine our plans. Next, we look forward to our Federal Energy Regulatory Commission-organized scoping sessions."
Quoddy Bay LNG wants people to call their office on Route 190 in Perry, at 853-6631, with any questions they may have regarding the permitting process. Information is available to follow up on submitted reports on the FERC website at http://ferc.gov eLibrary, general search, Docket No. PF06-11.
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.