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Debate continues on floating LNG terminal

Nearly 100 members of the Connecticut Maritime Association attended the group’s November luncheon — with its theme of “Battle Over Broadwater.”

Nearly 100 members of the Connecticut Maritime Association attended the group’s November luncheon — with its theme of “Battle Over Broadwater.”

Held in Darien, Conn., attendees came to hear presentations and participate in a question-and-answer session about Broadwater Energy’s proposal to build a liquefied natural gas storage and re-gasification facility in Long Island Sound. Representatives from Broadwater Energy and the environmental advocacy group Save the Sound, a program of the Connecticut Fund for the Environment, were in attendance.

“As a group of shippers, we want to give our members as much information about this project, from both sides, as possible,” association president Peter Drakos said before the presentations got under way.

Froydis Cameron, a representative of Shell Oil, spoke on behalf of Broadwater Energy, a partnership between Shell and TransCanada. The proposal calls for the construction of a floating LNG terminal in the broadest part of Long Island Sound, about nine miles from Long Island and 11 miles from Connecticut, she explained. The terminal would accept LNG from super tankers, convert it back to a gaseous state, and pump it into a pipeline for consumer use. Cameron said that since Connecticut and New York are at the end of the North American natural gas distribution system, building an LNG terminal there is necessary in addressing the high demand and high cost of fuel and electricity in the region. “This is a supply-and-demand issue,” she said. “There’s no silver bullet to come in and fix the problem, but we need to do something about this problem now.”

Broadwater Energy considered locations up and down the East Coast, Cameron explained, but decided on Long Island Sound because of security issues, and to minimize its effect on recreational boating.

Adrian Little, vice commodore of the Minuteman Yacht Club of Westport, Conn., isn’t so sure. Little, who acted as spokesperson for the “Boaters Against Broadwater” campaign in September, made a presentation on behalf of Save the Sound, arguing that the LNG facility would pose possible security risks, and would have a significant effect on recreational boating, especially in regard to navigation. “How will small boaters know when the tankers are coming in and where exactly the security zones are around them?” he asked. “This facility will restrict access to public waters that belong to the citizens of Connecticut and New York.”

For tankers traveling to the LNG facility in Boston Harbor, the Coast Guard is required to secure two miles off the bow, one mile off the stern and 500 yards off either side of tankers. The zones are maintained as the tankers travel to and from the terminal and for hours while they are unloaded. If similar zones will be required for a LNG facility in Long Island Sound, races and other recreational boating activities will be disrupted, Little said.

At the conclusion of his presentation, Little displayed a photo of three sailboats in Long Island Sound taken during the association’s first annual Sailing Regatta. He then showed the same photo with an image of a large LNG terminal in the background. “Is this how you want Long Island Sound to be?” Little asked. “The Sound is a place that boaters go to connect with nature and escape the stresses of organized life. We’re not anti-LNG. We’re against the industrialization of this precious natural resource. I urge you all to become more educated about this and to give your opinion to your elected officials.”

A question-and-answer session followed. Warren Bluestein, president of BGT Ltd., like a number of other members, voiced his frustration about the opposition facing Broadwater’s proposal and the LNG industry in general. “We’ve been delivering LNG all over the world for 20 years,” Bluestein said of his business. “What I think is unfortunate is that an industry like this, with a good track record, is getting a terrible reputation from groups with ulterior motives.”

Although members did not speak about the project’s potential effect on recreational boating, a number of people did inquire about its possible impacts on the environment. ,