September 27, 2006
Broadwater Report Sparks Fury; Support
A United States Coast Guard report aimed at evaluating the safety and security risks of Broadwater Energy's proposal for a floating liquefied natural gas terminal has re-ignited a spark of fury over the issue that has been smoldering for over a year.
The U.S. Coast Guard's Waterway Suitability Report, which concluded that the area safety and security risks need to be addressed before any federal approval can be given for placement, was applauded by those opposed to the project.
The Coast Guard's report called for a one-and-a-half-square mile buffer and safety zone around the terminal, as well as the presence of Broadwater-funded local emergency responders for the facility, to be anchored in Long Island Sound about nine miles from Wading River.
Locally, Riverhead Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale asked, "How much money must be thrown at this problem, whose money is it going to be, and what degree of risk will remain? And is it worth it to the public?"
On a broader scale, Cardinale said the problem lies in the fact that the project would "involve the private segregation to private enterprise of a significant swath of the Sound. That, to me, is unacceptable. It's our water, not Broadwater's."
Senators Charles Schumer, Hillary Rodham Clinton and Congressman Tim Bishop responded to the report, which they said stated that numerous security risks must be resolved before the proposed LNG terminal could be approved.
"The Coast Guard report confirms what we have been saying all along — that there are significant concerns associated with the project. I continue to believe that the Broadwater proposal is just the wrong idea for the Sound," said Clinton.
Broadwater Energy is a joint-venture between TransCanada Pipeline and Shell. The proposed facility would be approximately the size of the Queen Mary 2 cruise ship.
The report also said that if the liquid natural gas were to escape, an ignitable vapor cloud could travel 4.7 miles from the complex in any direction.
Broadwater spokesperson Amy Kelley said the company was very pleased with the report, and that the findings were not a surprise. "The report states that this is not a security threat and that the facility can operate safely with the mitigation measures recommended." Those measures, she said, are standard operating procedures that are in place at other LNG facilities; Broadwater had already anticipated implementing those operating procedures into the project cost.
The same is true for costs associated with local emergency responders, with whom Kelley said Broadwater had been in contact. "Our goal is not to burden anyone with these costs."
Both Broadwater and the Coast Guard recognized that there were no firefighting capabilities in the Sound; we knew that was something we had to provide," as well as the resources to put those things in place. "The report confirms that the facility is able to withstand a Category Five hurricane, and that there are no credible security threats to the terminal. That's something we've been saying all along," she added.