2008 Dec 9
CALAIS – While a number of Washington County residents spoke at a hearing here Thursday night about the much-needed jobs the proposed Calais LNG project would bring to the area, opponents from Canada were also on hand to voice their opposition to any LNG development in Passamaquoddy Bay.
The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) held the scoping session at the Washington County Community College. In a press release issued after the meeting, Calais LNG said over 120 people attended the meeting and of the 30 who spoke, 25 were in support of the project and five opposed.
Calais Mayor Vinton Cassidy said the city council fully endorsed the project, calling it a tremendous opportunity for jobs and economic development in Calais.
Saying that the shipping industry had supported the Calais economy for 200 years, he described this project as another form of shipping. He also pointed out that the city has lost 700 to 800 people during his term as mayor and they need the new jobs the project would create.
Former state senator Harold Silverman, of Calais, said he hoped for a change in the economic conditions that had led to out of state migration while several city councillors and residents expressed their hope for the economic potential of Calais LNG.
Captain Bob Peacock, of Eastport, said Maine and the Calais area have a strong workforce, including equipment operators, engineers and Maine Maritime Academy graduates available to fill the estimated 100 permanent on-shore and off-shore jobs.
Larry Lack, of St. Andrews, defended against accusations that Canadian LNG opponents are hypocrites because New Brunswick has the Point Lepreau nuclear generating station, the Bayside quarry and Irving’s LNG project in Saint John.
He said many Canadians are working to end these threats. He also mentioned walking the recently-opened trail up Devil’s Head, which overlooks the shore where Calais LNG wants to build, and he said the view of the U.S. shore and St.Croix Island is beautiful.
Lack questioned how anyone would even consider desecrating such a setting, adding that there are almost no comparably pristine places left along the north east coast of the US. He demanded that FERC suspend its evaluation of all three proposed LNG projects – Calais LNG, Quoddy Bay LNG and Downeast LNG – until intergovernmental consultations regarding the serious jurisdictional issues raised by these proposals are settled to the mutual satisfaction of both national governments.
Representatives of the Save Passamaquoddy Bay Three Nation Alliance presented a written statement opposing the project. Co-chair of SPB/Canada, Jessie Davies, said later the Calais LNG project has all the same problems as the other two proposed facilities but it is further up the river so it has even more potential for incidents.
“The other facilities would have some impacts but this would be the worst of the three because further up the river you could have more and more impacts on people and the lands that are adjacent to the river.”
The route to the Calais LNG terminal is the same as that proposed by Downeast LNG only longer, says SPB.
Canada claims the waters of Head Harbour Passage and the Canadian portions of Passamaquoddy Bay as internal Canadian waters and asserts the right to bar the transit of LNG tankers.
SPB also points out that Canadian authorities have not agreed to discuss joint security and safety measures specific to the transit of LNG tankers with the previously proposed projects and there is no bilateral agreement to address this issue.
They also cite interference and incompatibility with the existing uses of fishing and fishing-related navigation in the areas of inner Passamaquoddy Bay as well as interference and incompatibility with existing economic, cultural, navigational and recreational uses other than fishing.
SPB notes that the safety and security zones around LNG tankers will be incompatible with the two hourly ferries that connect Deer Island with both Eastport and Campobello, pointing out that the tourism industry, fishing industry, local residents and sometimes medical emergencies depend on this ferry service.
They say navigational and weather hazards present significant safety, security and environmental risks in a biologically rich and diverse habitat and the waterway is unsuitable for regular safe passage of hazardous cargo.
SPB also points to the impact on the endangered Atlantic salmon, the impact on St. Croix Island international park and Moosehorn national wildlife refuge, the impact on migrating shorebirds and other types of birds, geological safety and seismic impacts of the proposed site and sendout pipeline, the effects of noise and light pollution on both human and marine life and the cumulative effects of this development with other proposed LNG facilities in the vicinity.
Paul Cole, superintendent/executive secretary of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission, has also submitted written comments citing their opposition to the Calais LNG facility.
The commission members say they have concerns about emissions from the proposed terminal, which will affect the park’s air quality, about the protection of the park’s natural, historic, cultural, and physical resources as well as the safety of park visitors and staff from spills, noting that the potential would increase due to increase shipping in Head Harbour and Western Passages.
They say they have concerns about the safety of transporting LNG and the threats to the island of Campobello as well as the park.
“Taking the route all together with the attendant physical, tidal, current, and fog limitations, this proposal poses risks that are of such proportions and degrees as to make the safe transport of LNG in tankers highly questionable.”
They also express concerns about the safety of park visitors and staff with regard to the possibility of catastrophic damage involving an LNG tanker, already in an emergency situation, anchored in Friar Roads off the park.
The commission members say that, knowing that other area attractions aid in drawing visitors to the park, they are concerned that the disruptive and negative effects on the local and regional tourism economy and marine-related commercial and recreational activities would reduce visitation to the area and thereby reduce visits to the park.
“It is certain that if any accidents were to take place, whether by mechanical failure, human oversight or error, or due to terrorism, the results would be catastrophic and devastatingly compounded by the absence in this remote area of Canada and Maine of both trained personnel and proper response equipment necessary to fight either explosion or fire or to treat the likely number of human burns and injuries,” he said.
© 2008 Advocate Media
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.
The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB