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Mass. Bay gas facility sparks opposition

Gloucester commercial fishermen say terminal will obstruct 400-year-old fishing grounds

Gloucester commercial fishermen say terminal will obstruct 400-year-old fishing grounds

The company that owns a natural gas facility in Everett, Mass., is seeking regulatory approval for a proposed offshore liquefied natural gas terminal that would be located 10 miles off Gloucester in Massachusetts Bay.

According to Suez Energy North America (formerly Tractebel North America), the new $900 million facility is necessary to keep pace with increasing demands for natural gas. Additionally, the offshore site is intended to assuage Bay State resident concerns about security. Since 9/11, LNG tankers and facilities have been identified as potential terrorist targets and Boston Mayor Thomas Mennino unsuccessfully attempted to block tankers from entering Boston Harbor on their way to the Distrigas LNG marine terminal in Everett, along the Mystic River. LNG is natural gas that has been cooled to minus 260 degrees F to make it a liquid and, therefore, easier and safer to transport. The liquid is then warmed to a gaseous state, to be used for heating and cooking.

Local officials and area fishermen are opposed to the proposed facility, citing that it will interfere with the area’s commercial fishing industry.

“The proposed location is one of our prime inshore fishing and lobstering locations and has been for almost 400 years,” says Gloucester Mayor John Bell. “The area is not only harvested by Gloucester vessels but many from ports of eastern Massachusetts as well.”

“This is not a ‘not in my backyard issue,’ but rather a ‘not in my workplace’ issue. We take our mission of providing healthy protein to the world as very serious and a part of who we are as a recognized full service fishing port,” he adds.

Plans for the new terminal must meet federal and state requirements. The permitting process will likely take more than a year and construction is expected to take another three years.

The proposed facility is one of a dozen or so controversial proposals in the Northeast by various companies, including a proposed offshore terminal in Long Island Sound and a shoreside facility in Fall River, Mass.

The Everett terminal has been operational since 1971 and supplies about 20 percent of New England’s annual gas demand, according to the company.