Proposal: Safety Zone around LNG Tankers

Friday, May 12, 2006
The state Senate of Massachusetts could soon consider a bill that would effectively ban tanker ships carrying liquefied natural gas from moving along Narragansett Bay and the Sakonnet River. Lawmakers in the House passed the bill on May 10. If approved by the Senate and signed by Gov. Don Carcieri, the legislation could severely hinder the operations of a proposed LNG facility in Fall River, Mass. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved Weaver's Cove Energy's plan to build a $250m LNG terminal at a former Shell Oil site on the banks of the Taunton River. The terminal would be serviced by tankers that move through Narragansett Bay. State officials in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts have called the proposed LNG terminal a safety hazard, especially if the flammable cargo ignites and explodes. Rep. Raymond Gallison Jr., D-Bristol, who sponsored the legislation, said the bill would establish a safety and security zone that extends two miles in front of the ships, one mile behind them and 1,000 yards on each side. While the rules apply to all Rhode Island waterways, they would make it impossible for an LNG tanker to legally chart a course through Narragansett Bay or the Sakonnet River, which lead to the proposed terminal. In Narragansett Bay, Fort Adams State Park in Newport, Roger Williams University in Bristol and a dock and lighthouse on Prudence Island would come within the zone. (Source: The Boston Globe)
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