A federal study has concluded that LNG tankers could navigate Head Harbour Passage off the Bay of Fundy with little risk of accident, but the Canadian government continued to insist that it will bar U.S. tankers from the disputed waters.
Proponents of the competing LNG plants proposed
for northern Maine have seized on the study to argue that the Canadian government has exaggerated the safety concerns in order to favour domestic producers.
The federal government has refused to co-operate with U.S. regulators who are reviewing three separate plans for terminals that will regasify imported liquefied natural gas and pipe it to markets in the U.S. Northeast.
Earlier this year, Canada's Ambassador in Washington, Michael Wilson, wrote to U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that the projects pose risks to the region of southwest New Brunswick and that the government of Canada cannot accept.
However, the report by Toronto-based Senes Consultants Ltd. said there have been no serious accidents involving LNG tankers in the nearly 50 years they have been in use.
The Senes report did note the tricky waters of Head Harbour Passage require extremely careful navigation and that the surrounding eco-system could be severely affected by the discharge of fuel or LNG from tankers.
Dean Girdis, president of Downeast LNG Inc., said he believes - with backing from some Canadian academics and the U.S. state department - that tankers heading for a northern Maine terminal would have the right to traverse Canadian waters.
But Veteran Affairs Minister Greg Thompson, the government's senior New Brunswick minister said the proponents face other hurdles, including opposition to their pipeline routing and lack of sources of LNG. But should they proceed, Canada will oppose all LNG tanker traffic through head Harbour Passage, he said. [Source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com]