The Quoddy Tides

Eastport, Maine

2009 Jan 23

Comments filed with FERC
on Calais LNG project proposal

by Lora Whelan

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) had received 42 comments on the Calais LNG project, as of January 16. Of those 42 documents, seven were not applicable, filing errors or submittals by Calais LNG. Six of the 42 were in support of the project, with the remaining number expressing concern or opposition.

The proposed LNG terminal would be located on the St. Croix River, about six miles southeast of downtown Calais and just north of Ford Point. As outlined in FERC's summary of the docket, #PF0824, the facility would consist of a single-berth marine LNG terminal with a pier of about 1,000 feet built to accommodate LNG vessels with a cargo capacity of 120,000 to 170,000 cubic meters. The pier would have three cargo unloading arms and one vapor return arm. Two LNG storage tanks would have a capacity each of 160,000 cubic meters. A 20.5-mile, threefoot diameter send-out pipeline would extend from the LNG terminal to the existing Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline in Princeton.

Comments filed offered a glimpse of a diverse range of business, recreational, service industry and industrial activities that take place in the area.

The St. Croix River site has been home to thousands of years of tribal activity, according to Donald Soctomah, Passamaquoddy Tribal Historic Preservation Office (THPO). "Most notable is the annual canoe trip for the ancestors. This trip involves many tribal people canoeing down the St. Croix River." In addition, Soctomah stated concerns about: continuing overnight camping activities; recognizing cultural concerns and archeological significance; and addressing the pipeline route's proposed passage across property under contract to be purchased by the tribe as well as its passage across the site of an 1801 tribal village.

Located across the St. Croix River from the Devil's Head Park is the 350-acre Ganong Nature and Marine Park. Chairman Arthur Mackay stated that the park hosts 10,000 visitors a year. "Since many of our programs for children and adults are conducted on the protected 150-acre intertidal area that we own, we are concerned about increased air and water pollution, sedimentation from construction and exclusion from the water and shore during tanker berthing."

A neighbor to the nature and marine park, the Bayside Port Corporation, registered its concerns about the LNG project. While praising Calais LNG for their professionalism and openness to share information, the corporation has remained constant in having concerns. Darrell Weare wrote, "The physical location of the project is such that it definitely will have an impact on our port. All the factors affecting the Port of Bayside would be of a negative nature." The factors cited were: restricting or increasing the cost of access; and safety concerns because of the narrow confines of the river combined with increased shipping traffic and the limited tidal timeframe available for entrance and exit of ships.

Vinton Cassidy, mayor of the city of Calais, Diane Barnes, Calais city manager, James Porter, Calais assistant city manager, and William Bridgeo, a former Calais city manager, offered letters of support, stating the economic benefits to the area. Cassidy wrote, "The projected increase in the tax base such a project would bring will benefit everyone, including most notably those most vulnerable, the elderly, the poor, and those with fixed incomes. The availability of gas and lower taxes could bring spin off industries, thus providing more quality jobs."

Air quality was one of a number of concerns listed by of the Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission (RCIP) and the National Park Service, which oversees the St. Croix Island International Site. Superintendent Paul Cole of the commission stated, "The Clean Air Act establishes stringent requirements for Class I areas, of which RCIP is one. Class I area land managers have been given an affirmative responsibility to protect air qualityrelated values from adverse impacts." Both list suggested air quality issues that might result from the following actions: tanker and tug activity; construction and servicing; compressor stations if gas fired; regasification if gas-fired heaters are used to heat LNG; from LNG boiloff if not contained and used for other power purposes; and from power generation for LNG facility use.

Lori Nordstrom, field supervisor of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, listed concerns about the site's potential impact on eagle nesting, wetlands, streams and migratory shorebird staging habitat. "Shorebirds migrate in late summer from arctic nesting areas to Cobscook Bay and Passamaquoddy Bay to feed on the rich invertebrate resources of intertidal mudflats to gain the necessary weight for a nonstop flight to wintering areas in South America." The agency recommended that the environmental impact statement "should evaluate the effects of construction and operation of the LNG project on shorebird, seabird and waterfowl resources. This analysis should include the impacts of tanker traffic, both from a disturbance stand point and the impacts of LNG and oil spills."

Baileyville Utilities District Superintendent Gardner Rolfe wrote that the district "is not in favor of a gas pipeline crossing the well head protection land by trenching or directional boring, which would put the gas line under our esker." The letter explained that while they are in favor of economic development in the county, the utilities district has an excellent water supply that cannot be compromised.

Along with a discussion of environmental concerns, the Environmental Protection Agency's Region 1 Office recommended that FERC include a discussion of the number of LNG import facilities needed in New England. "Although the purpose and need is not yet determined, we offer our comments on the range of alternatives that the underlying purpose and need will be to deliver natural gas to the New England market. We also recommend that FERC address the following factors in its comparison of Calais LNG to other proposed LNG terminals in the northeast: 1. Ability to meet natural gas needs through existing infrastructure (need for pipeline delivery of natural gas from onshore terminals, need for truck deliveries of LNG to satellite storage areas); 2. Relative impacts on air quality and marine environment."

In an effort to keep the facts straight, Robert Wyatt of Downeast LNG filed a comment that did not register concern or support for the Calais LNG project. In response to a point of testimony recorded during the public scoping session held December 4, his letter stated, "Downeast LNG would like to note that to the best of its knowledge, no consultant for Downeast LNG has ever assessed Mr. Gadway's property as described in his statement, nor has Downeast LNG ever retained a consultant to appraise the Calais LNG visual resource impacts upon Mr. Gadway's property." Mr. Gadway was recorded as saying, "We were lucky enough to have some people from Downeast LNG, some of their consultants, environmental consultant, the man's name was Dan who came down, and they assessed our property to see what we would see as part of the Calais LNG project."


© 2009 The Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.