2006 June 23
by Gail Menzel
Two representatives of Quoddy Bay LNG [Quoddy Bay LLC], the developer that proposes to construct a liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal at Sipayik, attended the June 14 meeting of the Pembroke Planning Board. They were invited by the board to discuss a pipeline extension the company has announced that would extend from the Split Rock site to the existing Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline system at Princeton, and would include a 5.2-mile section through Pembroke.
At their meeting of May 9, planning board Chairman Al Goodwin displayed aerial photos he had received from the company showing the area in Pembroke where the pipeline would be located if [Quoddy Bay LLC] receives state and federal regulatory approval to construct the plant. Subsequently, board member Bill Brown said he was told the route plan had been revised and the photos were no longer applicable. The [Quoddy Bay LLC] representatives were invited to the June meeting to clarify the route projected for a pipeline through Pembroke and answer questions about the proposal.
Andrea Barstow, community relations director for the company, gave a [computer slide] presentation as an overview of the LNG industry and [Quoddy Bay LLC's] proposed import and regasification facility at Split Rock. Steven Sawyer, a pipeline engineer for a [Quoddy Bay LLC] subcontractor, Coler & Colantonio Inc. of Portland, said that initial discussions have been held with landowners in Pembroke regarding easements on their property. He explained that the company attempts to reach a negotiated agreement with each landowner covering the issues raised by the pipeline segment on his property. When Brown raised the question of a landowner's refusal to grant access to his land, Sawyer replied, "If we get FERC [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission] approval, we would use the power of eminent domain."
Sawyer returned to the issue of negotiations by the company with individual landowners several times, in response to questions raised about the company's responsibility after the construction of the pipeline. For example, when a citizen asked if the company would put up "gates" to prevent access by "four-wheelers and snowmobiles," Sawyer replied that a landowner who wishes gates should seek to make that a part of the negotiated agreement. Other issues he mentioned that might be addressed in agreements were width of the pipeline swath during construction, use of pesticides to control vegetation after installation, ownership of wood cut on the property and other matters. According to Sawyer, 80% of affected landowners have given permission for their property to be surveyed to date.
Karen and Charles ("Chickie") Ward own land on Ayers Junction Road and have been told by [Quoddy Bay LLC] representatives it would be "impacted" by the pipeline. Karen attended the planning board meeting and said later that she and her husband "will never give permission" for the project on their property, land the Ward family has owned "since the Civil War." Referring to the map showing the changes that were made in the proposed pipeline route, she said, "At least it's not going through my living room anymore now it just cuts our land in two."
The pipeline [would] be installed below ground, normally at a depth of 3642 inches, except under rivers and roads, where it could be placed as much as 3040 feet below the surface, Sawyer said. He acknowledged in response to a query that the original announced plan had been to locate the pipeline along the railroad tracks, but the plan was changed because the route included extensive wetland areas.
In her presentation, Barstow showed figures indicating the increases in assessed valuations which [Quoddy Bay LLC] estimates affected towns will experience as a result of the pipeline construction. In general, she said, a pipeline is valued at $1 million per mile. For Pembroke, that would amount to approximately a 10% increase in the town's valuation. Milan Jamieson, one of the two selectmen present, noted that an increase in valuation would produce a decrease in state school subsidy, and would be subject to depreciation over time, factors that could have an unpredictable effect on net revenue to the town.
Concerns were expressed by several speakers about safety issues. Chris Williams of the planning board asked if money, manpower, training and equipment would be provided by [Quoddy Bay LLC] to ensure that "rural volunteer fire departments" would be able to cope with serious emergencies. Sawyer said the company would be required to provide adequate emergency measures. To questions about monitoring the conduit for leaks, Sawyer replied that the pipeline must be "walked or flown over once a quarter," and that other "leak detection surveys," including internal systems, must be in place.
Jonathan Aretakis asked if [Quoddy Bay LLC] has plans to "get out and leave a turnkey situation" to another operator "something like Enron" after the construction phase of the LNG facility. Sawyer said that [Quoddy Bay LLC] is "the developer," but "does not plan to get out." He acknowledged the company has not previously been involved with an LNG facility. Questioned further by Aretakis about the company's business, he said, "They are a power generation company. They have one [facility] in Oklahoma and one or two others."
Planning board Chairman Albion Goodwin said he has looked into the procedure for the planning board to act as an "intervenor" in the FERC permitting process. He did not get support from other board members or the selectmen present for the board to intervene as a group, though some commented he could seek intervenor status as an individual. Goodwin noted that no construction permit application has yet been submitted for the construction of a pipeline in Pembroke, and suggested that "anyone who has a problem with the process" work through the planning board. He predicted that before a local permit is granted, a public meeting "would be held a year from now up at the school with two or three hundred people present."
© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.