Skip to comments.LNG: Harbor Commission has final say (Long Beach)
Posted on 08/22/2005 9:39:40 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
LONG BEACH After months debating issues peripheral to a proposed liquefied natural gas terminal in the Port of Long Beach, the City Council will consider a request Tuesday to oppose the project itself. But the sides are gearing up for a battle that may only be inflamed by a city report released late Friday detailing the project's potential terrorist and safety threats.
The report that City Hall sent to the California Energy Commission described the potential for "massive damage' downtown and in neighborhoods if an incident occurs at the proposed LNG site. It also detailed an alarming range of potential terrorist threats including hijacked LNG vessels, a small boat attack, a small aircraft attack and underwater diver or mine attacks.
Those concerns have caused opponents in recent months to urge council opposition to the project proposed by Sound Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of Mitsubishi Corp. and ConocoPhillips. SES officials maintain the complex would be safe and have urged the completion of an upcoming environmental review before any decision is made.
The issue will come to a head Tuesday.
The city's appointed Harbor Commission, which must approve a lease for the project, will eventually have final say. But Tuesday, the council will consider a request to tell the commission which the council appoints and the federal government that the city opposes the project.
"I'm convinced there's going to be strong support on Tuesday that this is not the place to do this,' said Councilman Frank Colonna, who first proposed the motion last week. Council members Bonnie Lowenthal, Dan Baker and Rae Gabelich are co-sponsoring the request.
But whether the council wants to take a stand on the project remains to be seen.
Others council members have urged their colleagues to wait until the upcoming environmental impact report is complete before the council takes a position up or down.
"I think it's our obligation to see the EIR,' Vice Mayor Jackie Kell said.
At issue is a $450 million LNG receiving terminal on the port's Pier T. At the proposed terminal, ships would offload the supercooled methane gas, which would be reheated into natural gas for commercial and residential use.
SES officials have said the terminal would provide needed resources of the alternative fuel for the state and could provide Long Beach natural gas customers with cheaper rates. Opponents have challenged the company, claiming the risk of an incident outweighs any benefits the terminal could provide.
The closest the council has come to a position on the project came in June. In a 5-4 vote, the council opted to continue negotiations with SES over a potential pipeline to transport gas from the terminal site.
Those in the minority argued that killing the pipeline deal would have killed the project, because the imported gas will need to travel beyond the site. But the slim majority said the council should wait until results of the EIR are complete before taking a position.
To Jeff Adler, a Sound Energy Solutions spokesman, Tuesday's proposed action is redundant.
"We're kind of baffled as to why the City Council is taking up the same subject that was decided on June 7,' Adler said. "The proposed action does not stop the project or do anything.'
Still, the company is prepared to make its case, taking out full page ads in the Press-Telegram leading up to Tuesday's debate, Adler said.
Despite the earlier vote, Colonna argues that the Federal Energy Bill, signed by President Bush on Aug. 8, changed the picture.
The bill gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority over where to site LNG terminals nationwide. City officials, however, maintain that the Long Beach Harbor Commission will still get final say as to whether to lease space in the port for the proposed Long Beach project.
Nonetheless, the energy bill allowed governors in coastal states to offer input on any safety issues regarding LNG terminal proposals in their states, as FERC weighs in on LNG terminals nationwide.
On Friday, Long Beach sent information about the SES project to the California Energy Commission for consideration in the report Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will present to Washington.
The city's report provided details on the number of people living within 5 miles of the site (408,860) and the number of employees who work within the same range (113,855). It also detailed extensive resources that the city's fire and police departments would require if a terminal is built, noting that the city will expect to be reimbursed for any costs it incurs defending the site.
But in a section on security response, city officials said the project poses numerous terrorist risks, including a hijacking of an LNG vessel.
"If the ship were to be hijacked, it could be navigated into a highly populated zone in the city such as the Queen Mary complex and crashed into either the Carnival Cruise ship or the Queen Mary itself, causing an explosion or release of gas,' the report stated.
City officials also cautioned that a small boat with explosives could be docked next to the terminal and that rocket-propelled grenades could be launched from a nearby ship.
The report also described the risk of a small aircraft attack as "very high' given the proximity to the takeoff route from Long Beach Airport. Prior to any ship arriving, Long Beach police would also insist on sending divers to search the piers and the hulls of the ships themselves.
Lastly, the report noted that any fire at the site could have devastating effects on the city.
"A major LNG incident at this proposed Port location could result in massive damage to both people and property over an area that could include downtown Long Beach as well as residential neighborhoods north of the Port,' the city wrote.
Adler said the list of risks is already known and can be mitigated. He downplayed the report, saying the port and airport face those same risks even without an LNG terminal.
"The city's trying to throw the kitchen sink at the state on this issue,' he said.
This from a city that has oil wells in back yards and shopping center parking lots, oil wells just off shore (covered to make them look like resort buildings on an island.), and oil refineries just across the bridge!
The report that City Hall sent to the California Energy Commission described the potential for "massive damage' downtown and in neighborhoods if an incident occurs at the proposed LNG site. An incident has already occurred. The liberals have acted to prevent the construction of a needed facility. They have surrendered even before the attack on the facility has begun. Naturally liberals do not know how to protect a military target, they have spent so much time running from conflict, it is the only strategy they understand.
An LNG tanker is a dangerous beast --- think Der Hindenburg --- much more so than oil (which, while certainly potentially explosive really burns more than it blows up).
I am not saything this could not be done safely, but the offload port would have to be FAR offshort --- an explosion of a tanker would be in the kiloton range, very easily.
Think Texas City and a barge full of fertilizer.
The same fear possibilities could be laid at most LNG proposals. Life has a high potential for eventual death. If the libs would just off themselves, they could have peace and tranquility.
How's about we build a trans-atlantic pipe under the ocean? No more ships, just pump energy all over the world.
I hereby retain all rights and profits derived from this idea exclusively as my own. Thank you.
WooHoo - God BLESS America's Energy Independence!