The Saint Croix Courier

St. Stephen, NB

2009 Feb 3

Calais LNG developer defends against attacks


DEER ISLAND – Calais LNG says the operation of the ferries from Deer Island to Campobello and Eastport will not be severely disrupted by LNG tankers if the proposed development of a liquefied natural gas import terminal goes ahead.

The possibility of disruption of the services or the ferry going out of business altogether was raised by Jan Meiners and Joyce Morrell, owners of Owen House, an inn on Campobello, during the scoping session for Calais LNG held in December.

The company has issued responses to the public comments, which are listed on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) website.

In reply to the concerns about the ferries, the company says that it estimates it will take approximately 18 minutes for an LNG vessel and its safety zone to pass a given point once or twice a week.

The operators of Owen House also said an increase in tanker traffic may mean that a large scale tidal project could not be developed in the area but Calais LNG says tidal and ocean energy technologies are in the early developmental phases and, to date, the industry has not yet settled on a preferred platform for converting ocean energy and no such project has entered commercial operation in New England.

“It would be premature to speculate what, if any, impacts ship traffic may have on any such future projects,”the company states.

The Roosevelt Campobello International Park Commission (RCIPC) expressed concerns relating to the protection of its natural, historic, cultural, and physical resources and the safety of park visitors and staff from oil spills with increased shipping in Head Harbour and Western Passages.

Calais LNG says LNG vessels will be required to operate in compliance with Coast Guard regulations and restrictions. The company says compliance with these regulations will minimize the effects of the addition of a limited number of LNG vessels to the existing commercial traffic including the likelihood of a spill.

The park commission is also concerned about the dangers from spills, fires and explosions of an LNG tanker and said there are significant areas of the island, including residential areas, substantial portions of the park and the historic district in the park which would be immediately, dramatically and devastatingly involved.

However, Calais LNG says potentially-hazardous radiant heat will not reach the Campobello residential or historic areas and the closest approach of an LNG vessel to the historic facility is over 500 metres.

The park commission said the heat alone from any fire or explosion involving an LNG tanker in transit would immediately render to ashes much of the shoreline vegetation and structures on northern and western Campobello, the island’s most populated areas, including the park’s shoreline buildings and the historic Roosevelt cottage.

Calais LNG says the Waterway Suitability Report (WSR) issued for Downeast LNG, one of the other two companies hoping to develop an LNG terminal in Passamaquoddy Bay, has looked at these concerns and finds the waterway suitable for passage of LNG tankers.

When Fundy Baykeeper David Thompson spoke at the scoping session, he expressed concern that there is a bigger ecological and biological imprint on the planet from projects such as this one.

The company says the potential impacts of the project on environmental, esthetic, and historical-cultural resources in this area have been the subject of several detailed scientific evaluations commissioned by Calais LNG and that, as a general rule, these studies indicate that potential significant impacts on the human and natural environment around the project can be adequately avoided or mitigated.

Thompson is also concerned about the potential for increased whale deaths with more ship traffic in the Bay of Fundy.

Calais LNG says they commissioned an analysis of the project’s expected impacts on listed whales and, in particular, the right whale, which showed that while collision is the most likely project-related threat to right whales, the potential for a lethal collision will be reduced approximately 70 to 75 per cent by a reduction in vessel speed to 10 knots and the use of the 2003 Traffic Separation Scheme, which locates the shipping lanes to the corner of the Grand Manan conservation area.

“Calais LNG is committed to reducing the impact of its operations on right whales and will comply with recommended practices for the protection of this critically endangered species,” the company states.

Larry Lack, of St. Andrews, is concerned that one of the most beautiful vistas anywhere on the northeast coast of the U.S. could become an industrial centre.

Calais LNG says they are sensitive to concerns that the project could impact local esthetic resources, including visual and noise qualities, so they have directed the preparation of detailed scientific analyses of the existing esthetic resources and the potential visual and noise-related impacts from the project along the pipeline route and within a five-mile radius surrounding the terminal site.

Lack also spoke about the dangers LNG tankers and terminals would impose on the shores of Head Harbour and Deer Island, which would require the Canadian government and local communities to take on unlawful and burdensome responsibilities and force them to plan for a disaster they have no control in preventing.

Again, Calais LNG referred to the WSR, noting that it appears to address this concern.

In response to questions about the source of LNG for their facility and the lifetime of the industry, the company says world supplies of LNG will greatly increase in the 2012-2014 time-frame when multiple LNG production projects come to completion.

“While the precise sources of LNG for the project will be determined by LNG suppliers and New England gas customers at a later date, the project anticipates that most of the LNG will come from sources located in the Atlantic Basin. Longer term, LNG producers are eager to find long-term reliable customers for their product,” the company states.

For those concerned that siting an LNG terminal in a border area would make it an easily accessible target for a terrorist attack, Calais LNG says the project, as a U.S.-based facility, is accountable to the full extent of the Natural Gas Act and the FERC processes, including the commission’s consideration of security measures, as appropriate, from all interested parties.

“The border does make safety and security a cooperative effort for both countries,” the company states.

“If LNG were released due to an attack, the expected impact would be a fire, not an explosion. The distance to which a fire would threaten people would largely be limited to the immediate area of the release.”

Calais LNG is proposing to construct and operate an LNG receiving terminal and storage facility just south of Calais. The proposed facility will include a pier with berthing for one LNG vessel, two LNG storage tanks with potential expansion for a third tank, an LNG receiving facility, a send-out plant and ancillary features and a pipeline connecting the facility to the Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline.

The project is estimated to create approximately 250 construction jobs and between 40 to 60 permanent operations and maintenance jobs.

Calais City Council is supporting the project as well as a number of Calais area residents and business people.

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    © 2009 Advocate Media
    Article republished on Save Passamaquoddy Bay website with permission.

    The Saint Croix Courier, St. Stephen, NB