The Quoddy Tides

Eastport, Maine

2006 July 28

Residents turn out for visit by FERC to proposed LNG site

by Marie Jones Holmes

Deer Island residents want to be on the map when it comes to charts showing a proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal to be located at Split Rock, Pleasant Point. A site inspection held by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) representative Robert Kopka on July 13 attracted more than 100 Quoddy Bay residents from both sides of the border. Canadians believe the charts used at a meeting, held prior to the site inspection, are deceptive because they do not show Deer Island in relation to Eastport. It was suggested that a model of the proposed terminal structure should also be available.

Tempers flared as area residents questioned Quoddy Bay LNG Project Manager Brian Smith about the proposed site. The proposed pier at Split Rock would extend 1,300 feet from the shore in a Y-shaped fashion, with one arm being located in Eastport waters and the other in Pleasant Point waters. Eastport City Councillor Kathryn Lewis was concerned about what measures were planned for an evacuation of Eastport in the event of an emergency associated with the terminal operation. Smith said an earlier proposal for a temporary, floating bridge to provide an escape route from the island in the event of an accident at Split Rock drew very little interest from Eastport residents, and the bridge idea was discarded.

The pier, which could handle two ships at a time, would be a mile and a half from Deer Island. A 500-yard exclusion zone would be in place as an LNG ship passes a given spot. According to Smith, a maximum of 180 ships a year, or about a ship every other day, would use the terminal. Questions were raised concerning who would pay for the necessary security requirements for areas around the terminal and the storage tanks to be located in Perry. "I am telling you we will pay for security," commented Smith. "All costs will be basically funded by my father, Don Smith." This statement was questioned by several people. Brian Smith said his father had bought out most of the original partners in Quoddy Bay LNG. Questioned about where Quoddy Bay LNG would be obtaining natural gas, Smith said there is no dedicated source at this time.

At times during the question period Smith expressed the feeling that he was not being treated in a civil manner. The Oklahoma-based company, now mostly owned by his father, was established, Smith said, in response to a request from members of the Passamaquoddy Tribe to determine the feasibility of developing an LNG facility at Pleasant Point.

Smith described the two LNG pipes that would be placed under Route 190 to transport liquefied gas to the three storage tanks to be located on the "Old Eastport Road" in Perry and a third pipe to carry off vapor from the process. The 37% nickel pipes would not expand and would be placed in a trench. The Perry facility would be used to back up the supply of gas from the import terminal.

While there were tense moments as opponents hammered at statements made by Smith, there were also humorous moments, such as Smith's statement, "We will be a major source of nitrous oxide," also known as laughing gas. The facility would have emissions of nitrogen oxides (NOx).

While people discussed the project at the proposed terminal site, about 50 feet away a group of Passamaquoddy tribal members gathered at the actual Split Rock, considered a sacred area by some tribal members, and sang ceremonial songs.

FERC will return

Many of the questions directed at Kopka concerned engineering matters, which Kopka said he was not able to address. The audience expressed disappointment that FERC sent only one representative to the site inspection. Kopka assured the group, "We will have our engineers here in the future."

Kopka noted that FERC is still in the process of gathering environmental information from Quoddy Bay and will be gathering its own data for an environmental impact statement. The site inspection was an opportunity for the public to view the proposed sites first hand, Kopka stated.

Kopka was asked if three or four LNG projects in this area could be approved. "It is possible there could be three in the bay area if all three are approved," commented Kopka. He noted that many projects that are approved do not proceed beyond that stage because of economic factors.


© 2006 The Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine
Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.