Hess LNG states
Weaver's Cove case
to Conservation Commission
John Moss, Herald News Staff
About 150 concerned residents
attended a public hearing before the Conservation Commission
Wednesday night as Hess LNG sought local-level approval to move
ahead with its plan to build a liquefied natural gas facility
in the North End.
he hearing was still going at press time, but it was expected
that the three commissioners present would take the matter under
advisement for review.
"All the information will be noted and taken into consideration,"
said Chairwoman Charlotte Assad. The only other members of the
five-member board to show up were Patrick Langlois and Donna
Valente, providing a quorum. The board and Hess LNG officials
agreed that at future meetings on the issue only Assad, Langlois
and Valente would vote on the matter.
Large "No LNG" signs were dispersed throughout the
audience, which was somewhat feisty. The overflow crowd in the
City Council hearing room had to move to the more spacious City
Council chamber. The commission addressed two Hess LNG filings.
The first application dealt with construction of an LNG import
terminal and dredging of the Taunton River that goes along with
it. The second filing addressed installation of pipelines that
the company will need to transport the gas.
The commission is a local board that implements state regulations
pertaining to wetlands and bodies of water.
Hess LNG officials gave a slide presentation, outlining their
plans, including proposed construction of the LNG terminal at
Weaver's Cove off North Main Street from 2004 to 2007, and a
two-phase installation of pipelines from 2007 to 2009.
Proposed pipelines would run laterally west from the terminal
through Somerset and into Swansea to hook up to the Algonquin
line. Also, a line would run north from the terminal to an Algonquin
line in Freetown. Current 20-inch pipelines would be replaced
with 24-inch lines. On Monday, Hess LNG received approval from
Freetown's Conservation Commission to install a portion of the
pipeline in Assonet.
Les Smith of Epsilon Associates said the Taunton River would
be expanded to 19 acres, where the huge LNG tankers must turn
around, and it also will be deepened on the Fall River and Somerset
sides. Smith said that dredging operations would be typically
conducted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with constant water
quality sampling and monitoring. Ray Hicks, project manager for
Mill River Pipeline LLC, said there would be aerial and foot
patrols daily to monitor the pipeline crossing. "All environmental
controls will be in place as the pipeline crosses wetland areas,"
he said, explaining that the line would traverse streams, brooks,
slopes and culverts.
During the public input time, several residents expressed concerns,
particularly with potential health issues that may result from
the dredging operation. The Rev. James Hornsby of 260 Lake Ave.,
secretary for Green Futures, said of the Hess LNG officials,
"Not once in their presentation has the term 'human being'
been used. ... Typical lies and half-truths. We've heard a lot
of these tonight." Joseph Carvalho of 470 N. Belmont St.,
chairman of the Coalition of Citizens Against LNG, also accused
LNG officials of using "half-truths, with their estimates
of dredging material changed several times." Carvalho also
questioned the Conservation Commission's jurisdiction over placement
of the dredging material. "What contaminants are in that
material?" he asked. "I don't think people in this
city are going to stand for it any longer." And seated at
the same table with the Hess LNG officials, Carvalho said, "If
I hear 'state of the art' one more time, I may puke on these
suits right here." Brian Pearson of 886 Cherry St., noting
the Weaver's Cove site is listed as a "designated port area,"
said he would ask the mayor and City Council to have it deemed
a "dangerous port area" if the proposed project is
approved. "I can't see the Conservation Commission approving
this when federal and state agencies with all their resources
still have questions," he said. Lillian Correia of 1769
N. Main St., president of the North End Neighborhood Association,
said, "No one mentioned the health and welfare of the residents
on both sides of the river during dredging 24 hours a day, seven
days a week." She expressed concern that local hospitals
"are not equipped to handle all those coming in after being
affected by the stench up and down the bay." "What's
more important? Money or people?" she asked the Hess LNG
officials. Langlois asked officials about the potential stench
from contaminated dredged material. Leon Boden of Mill River
Pipeline LLC responded that the material would be ultimately
placed at the LNG site after it is turned into "engineered
fill." Boden also assured the commission that there are
no plans to use fly ash in the engineered material.
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