Weaver's Cove LNG:
Is it worth the risk?
Weaver's Cove Energy:
Plans for Greater Fall River
- Weaver's Cove Energy
plans to build a 200,000 cubic meter tank in Fall River to store
Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG). How much is 200,000 cubic meters
in cubic feet? This proposed storage tank would have the capacity
to store 7,063,000 cubic feet of highly flammable gas!
- Weaver's Cove Energy
would transport the LNG by tanker up the Taunton River, under
4 bridges and past residential areas. In Boston the danger is
so great that when an LNG tanker arrives in the harbor everything
shuts down, heavily armed boats and shore patrols are deployed,
and all traffic is stopped on the Tobin Bridge!
- Weaver's Cove Energy
would bring in 73 tankers of LNG a year. That's a total of 146
round trips under the 4 bridges and past Fall River, Somerset,
Tiverton, Portsmouth, Middletown, Newport and Jamestown.
- Weaver's Cove Energy
says each tanker would be able to carry up to 145,000 cubic meters
of LNG. In this day and age, this means that these communities
would have a floating bomb go by their homes and businesses each
and every week that contained over 5 million cubic feet of LNG!
- Weaver's Cove Energy
said that it would take at least a day to unload this huge amount
of gas from the tanker to the storage tank. They say that 9,125
trucks per year will be loaded with LNG, but as designed, the
facility will be able to handle an incredible 36,000 tank trucks
- Weaver's Cove Energy
will tell you that the storage tank is safe. That the ships are
safe. If they are so safe, why does Mayor Thomas M. Menino of
Boston call them "targets"? If they are so safe, why
does the Boston Fire Commissioner, Paul Christian, prefer that
the tanker ships not come into Boston Harbor? Boston Police Superintendent
James Hussey recently said. "Our concerns will never be
allayed...Our harbor is attached to residential and business
communities - it's a serious concern to us." Does it make
sense to site an LNG facility so far inland and in a residential
- MIT Professor James
Fay recently told the Boston Herald that if a projectile
or bomb was able to breach the hull of a tanker carrying LNG
it would release a massive burning cloud and set fire to waterfront
buildings within a half a mile in minutes. Superheated air could
cause first-to-third degree burns and start fires miles beyond!
- Do the people of Greater
Fall River want a time bomb sitting on their waterfront? Do the
people along the over twenty mile long approach to the proposed
site from the ocean want a potential disaster traveling past
them over 100 times a year?
Cove LNG: Is it worth the risk?
Weaver's Cove representatives
are presenting their proposed Liquefied Natural Gas facility
in Fall River as a benign project that will have many benefits
and few risks to the residents of the city. However, the facts
prove otherwise. This information outlines some of the main positions
that Weaver's Cove has presented and the actual facts based on
LNG tankers and facilities have an excellent track record that
will continue with the Weaver's Cove facility.
False. On Monday, January
19, 2004, the Skikda LNG plant on the Algerian coast blew up,
killing at least 23 people. Only the remote location of the facility
prevented higher casualties. The huge explosion ripped through
the plant, shutting down and severely damaging the LNG port.
The closing of the plant, one of two in Algeria, will seriously
restrict LNG exports to southern Europe. Promoters of LNG facilities
can no longer say they are safe enough to be located near residential
LNG tankers have had a credible track record because there are
so few of them when compared with coal colliers and oil tankers.
The only LNG tanker shipping on the Atlantic seaboard has been
the weekly service to the Distrigas facility in Everett. Cove
Point, Maryland and Elba Island, Georgia only recently opened.
However, 9/11 has changed what is now possible. Before September
11, 2001, the World Trade Center had an excellent track record
of not being hit by airliners. The past safety record of
LNG tankers and facilities has no meaning after 9/11. LNG tankers
- particularly when they approach residential areas - are known
as "target rich." This is because terrorists can get
more impact (that is, fatalities) from attacking a tanker as
it approaches an urbanized area such as Fall River. We must assume
that the worst will happen sooner or later, particularly if terrorists
are given an easy target.
Before January 19, 2004, Weaver's Cove officials said that it
was virtually impossible for an LNG facility to explode. After
the event at Skikda, Algeria, however, that assertion has been
Any blast from the
Weaver's Cove facility will "only" affect approximately
9,000 North End residents living near the LNG tank.
False. All residents
who live along the 5 mile route of the tanker in Fall River -
approximately 45,000 residents - will be subject to death or
severe burns from a tanker explosion. This includes residents
who live within three-quarters of a mile (3,600 feet) of the
shoreline from the Tiverton line in the South End to above the
Shell Terminal site in the North End of the city.
The Coast Guard and
state and local law enforcement agencies would protect LNG tankers
from a terrorist attack.
False. The Coast Guard
and other law enforcement agencies have said that they cannot
guarantee that terrorists will not be successful in attacking
an LNG tanker or facility. This is especially true of tankers
approaching Weaver's Cove, since the tankers would be within
600 feet or less of the Fall River waterfront for 5 miles from
the Tiverton line to the Weaver's Cove site. Local and state
law enforcement officials have said that because of the close
distance between the tankers and the shoreline, it would be impossible
to intercept a terrorist intent on breaching the ship. Terrorists
could attack an LNG tanker in any number of ways, including by
a speedboat loaded with explosives from the shoreline, by a rocket-propelled
grenade or by a shoulder-fired missile launcher fired from the
shoreline, by an underwater mine or by the use of a small aircraft
with explosives deliberately flown into the ship.
If a leak from a
tanker occurs, it can be contained.
False. The Fall River
Fire Chief has stated publicly that a fire from an LNG tanker
would have such intensity and burn with such suddenness that
conventional fire fighting equipment would be helpless to combat
it. MIT Professor James Fay, a highly respected and recognized
expert on the properties of hazardous materials, has stated that
"LNG fires that burn thousands of tons of fuel in a few
minutes are extraordinarily large, lying well outside the range
of domestic firefighting experience. Such fires cannot be extinguished."
Professor Fay, who analyzed the Weaver's Cove proposal in Fall
River, has written that "within the thermal radiation danger
zone, extending 3,600 feet from a spill site on the main channel
of the Taunton River, skin burns to humans exposed for only a
fraction of a minute will occur, and building fires can be induced.
Closer to the shorefront, at 1,600 feet from the spill site,
where the thermal radiation flux is 10 kilowatts per square meter,
fatalities can ensue. One cannot exaggerate the thermal intensity
of the LNG pool fire."
In addition, the fires caused by the explosion of the LNG tanker
would initiate a conflagration that would spread far beyond the
intitial three-quarter mile impact area, burning a much larger
number of properties and residents before the fires could be
extinguished. According to information provided by FEMA for the
Cove Point, Maryland project, people and property could be affected
by an LNG catastrophe as far away as three miles, depending on
the wind direction.
tankers cannot be pierced.
False. The double hull
is not meant nor designed to prevent breaching of LNG tankers.
LNG ships have double hulls for insulation, since the LNG must
be kept very cold to prevent gasification. In October, 2002,
a new French double-hulled oil tanker sailing off of Yemen, the
"Limburg," was rammed by a speedboat with explosives.
The attacking boat pierced both hulls and penetrated over 20
feet into the cargo hold, which was loaded with crude oil. All
LNG tankers are as vulnerable to attack as the "Limburg,"
the only difference is that the consequences of piercing an LNG
tanker can be catastrophic.
LNG facilities will
not affect property values or property insurance rates.
That is unlikely. The
dangers imposed by the Weaver's Cove terminal and LNG tankers
will very likely have a dampening effect on property values,
particularly for properties within the three-quarter mile danger
zone above the shoreline. Commercial and residential insurance
rates may also be affected. If a major incident does occur, it
is almost certain that property values will fall and that insurance
rates will rise in the entire city.
The Weaver's Cove
LNG facility will bring in $3 million in tax revenue to the City.
True, but what Weaver's
Cove will give with one hand it will take away with the other.
The cost for public safety agencies to accompany LNG tankers
into Boston Harbor along a 5-mile route is $87,000 per visit.
Accompanying LNG tankers the 25 miles from Newport to Fall River
will cost up to five times that - or $435,000 per visit - given
that the route is five times longer than the Boston Harbor route
and has three more bridges that would need to be guarded and
closed. If Fall River's public safety costs were similar to Boston's,
the average cost per tanker trip would approximate $30,000, for
a total of $1.5 million for the 50 trips per year projected by
Weaver's Cove. The result is that the net tax benefit to the
City of Fall River from the Weaver's Cove facility will be only
$1.5 million, hardly worth the danger to city residents and the
negative economic impact on other sectors of the city's economy.
LNG tankers trucks
will not pose a danger to the public or disrupt the city.
False. Weaver's Cove
has estimated that up to 100 tanker trucks will be leaving their
facility daily. Only one truck turnover or collison, however,
can cause massive disruptions to the economy of the city and
pose a danger to the public. A recent example illustrates this
point: Late in 2003, an LNG tanker truck turned over on a ramp
on Interstate Route 93 north of Boston. Public safety officials
closed the highway and nearby routes, causing a massive traffic
jam during commuting hours that caused inconvenience and lost
working hours for thousands of stranded motorists. Given the
35,000 truck trips a year that will originate from the Weaver's
Cove faciltiy, the possibility of truck rollovers and collisions
in the city would be high.
Bridges will not
be closed to traffic as tankers pass.
False. The Tobin Bridge
in Boston is closed as LNG tankers proceed to Everett, and it
is projected that the Pell Bridge in Newport, the Mount Hope
Bridge and the Braga Bridge will be closed as the LNG tankers
proceed to the Weaver's Cove facility. This is in addition to
the new Brightman Street Bridge, which will need to be opened
to let the tankers pass. The result of these bridge closings
is that public safety vehicles, including ambulances, will be
delayed, as will commuters going to and from work.
The Coast Guard will
provide adequate protection to LNG tankers along the route from
Newport to Fall River into the indefinite future.
Not necessarily. During
a public meeting on the Weaver's Cove project before the Fall
River City Council on September 23, 2003, a representative of
the Coast Guard said that - for security reasons - they could
not provide information on how the agency would protect LNG tankers
bound for Fall River. In other words, we will have to trust them
to provide adequate protection. In addition, we will also have
to trust that the Coast Guard budget for the Port of Providence
will be increased dramatically to allow the increased LNG tanker
escorts and that the budget will not be cut in the future, preventing
the agency from protecting LNG shipping.
The Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission will consider all public safety factors
when siting the Weaver's Cove LNG facility.
False. FERC regulations
do NOT allow the agency to consider public safety issues when
siting LNG facilities. Only economic and environmental factors
The Weaver's Cove
facility is no different from the gas tank on Bay Street.
False. The New England
Gas Company's gas distribution tank on Bay Street is very small
compared to the enormous tank at Weaver's Cove, which would be
200 feet high (the height of Braga Bridge) and hold 20,000 cubic
meters of liquefied natural gas. The Bay Street facility is a
"peak shaving" tank that supplements supply during
times of high use. These tanks are located throughout Massachusetts
require that LNG facilities, because of their inherent danger,
be located away from residential areas.
False. In a 1979 act
regulating LNG, Congress included a provision mandating that
LNG facilities be sited in remote areas. However, the Department
of Transportation ignored the intent of Congress, and this provision
was never included in the FERC regulations.
Only Fall River will
be affected by the Weaver's Cove facility.
False. All shipping
and boating along the route of the LNG tankers will be required
to stay clear of the tankers, thereby disrupting commercial boating
and the important recreational boating activity in Narragansett
and Mount Hope Bays. Marine vessels will be required to stay
clear of two miles in front of LNG tankers, one mile to the rear
and one-quarter mile to the sides. In addition, residents of
Newport and Jamestown may be within the zone of impact if a tanker
is punctured when passing those communities.
There are no other
options for siting LNG facilities in the US.
False. There are many
other options for siting LNG facilities in the US, including
on the East Coast. Facilities of this kind should be sited offshore
and away from the populated areas. FERC is currently considering
21 proposals for LNG facilities in the US, making the need for
the Weaver's Cove facility questionable.
LNG facilities need
to be sited in SE Massachusetts because of the shortage of natural
gas in the region.
False. The region is
well-served by natural gas lines that can adequately serve the
region. This national system of gas lines is served by many natural
gas facilities, including LNG facilities.
Safe LNG siting alternatives
are not economically feasible.
False. The Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission has approved LNG facilities that are located
offshore or in remote areas. There is absolutely no reason to
locate LNG facilities in populated areas when safe alternatives
LNG tankers can easily
navigate the new Brightman Street Bridge.
That is yet to be seen.
here would be only 30 feet of clearance on either side of the
LNG tankers. These huge ships maneuver very slowly, and should
high winds or other factors cause these vessels to collide with
the new bridge, the result could be a disaster as gas escapes
from the ruptured ship. In addition, a collsion with the bridge
could close the bridge, causing major economic disruption and
inconvenience for the city and region. Due to changing tides
and crosswinds, there is a long history of much smaller oil tankers
and coal colliers - bound for the Shell Oil Terminal and Montaup
Electric plant - hitting the existing Brightman Street Bridge,
causing it to be closed while repairs were made.
The Weaver's Cove
facility will improve the economy of Fall River.
False. The economy of
the city will be disrupted by regular bridge closings and by
the impact of actual or anticipated disasters from the LNG tankers
and facility. Even if no incident occurs, the regular "Orange
Alerts" from the Department of Homeland Security will constantly
remind residents and businesses that the city is in constant
danger from terrorist attacks. If a minor or major incident occurs,
the result will be loss of life, a steep drop in property values
and increased residential and commercial property insurance.
The Weaver's Cove LNG facility will have a negative impact on
the city's economy because Fall River will be perceived as being
a dangerous place to live, work or locate a business.