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National Safety and Security Expert Recommends Denying Permits for Searsport LPG Terminal
National Safety and Security Expert Recommends Denying Permits for Searsport LPG Terminal
Today the Islesboro Islands Trust released the much anticipated, independent “All Hazards Risk Assessment” of the highly controversial Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) terminal proposed for Mack Point in Searsport at the head of Maine’s spectacular Penobscot Bay. The report was conducted by Richard A. Clarke’s consulting firm, Good Harbor Techmark (GHT).

Clarke, a counter-terrorism advisor to three Presidents of the United States, recommended “not proceeding with the project as currently proposed” and concludes that the Searsport Planning Board must deny the LPG permit applications submitted by DCP Searsport, LLC. Richard A. Clarke and the GHT research team will present their report to the Searsport Planning Board on Wednesday, January 16, beginning at 6 p.m. in the Searsport District High School on Mortland Road.

The Islesboro Islands Trust (IIT)—an intervenor in the regulatory review process—engaged Good Harbor last summer to conduct an independent and unbiased assessment to identify the risks, hazard zones, and the emergency response costs posed by the proposed LPG Terminal. The Good Harbor team identified high risks and significant vulnerabilities in the proposed project design, and found that “both landside and maritime emergency response resources are currently inadequate to support major LPG incident management activities.”

Significant findings support GHT’s recommendation to deny the permits:
· An independent blast analysis, which found that under a variety of accident scenarios, an explosion or leak at the terminal would cause lethal and devastating impacts to nearby homes and businesses, and to travelers on Route One;
· The lack of a cost sharing plan, which would transfer significant project costs from the LPG developer to local communities;
· Gaps in current regulations, which leave citizens and businesses unprotected; and
· Insufficient depths in the Searsport harbor and at the existing pier, which will require expensive and environmentally damaging dredging before ocean going LPG ships can safely access the port.

Clarke also cautioned regulators to look carefully at dramatic recent changes in global energy prices, which are leading industry to convert import terminals into export facilities.

IIT praised the thorough and independent analysis by the Good Harbor team. “The GHT report is exceptionally well done and provides a first ever look at the real costs and dangers associated with the proposed LPG Terminal.” said Stephen Miller, IIT Executive Director. “Based on this analysis, the Terminal should not go forward. The risks are too great and the costs too high.”

“The LPG Terminal project should be stopped in its tracks,” added Steve Hinchman, counsel for IIT and Thanks But No Tank, a concerned citizens group opposed to the project. “The Good Harbor report confirms that Searsport and Pen Bay lack the resources or available space to safely host such a hazardous facility. This project would put too many people at risk.”

Overview of GHT’s hazard analysis findings:

· Wide-reaching effects of an accident: The blast analysis done by GHT’s subcontractor found that under a number of accidental and terrorism scenarios, the lethal hazard zone for a fire or explosive vapor cloud extends far beyond the property boundaries, and will place nearby residents, business owners and travelers at risk;

· Inconsistent review of LPG and LNG: GHT, the US Coast Guard and Congressional reports all conclude that the safety and security risks for propane (LPG) and methane (LNG) are very similar. Yet the review process and permitting requirements are much more stringent for LNG. Based on all blast analyses, GHT found that Searsport site would not meet minimum federal siting criteria for LNG and should not be permitted for LPG for the same reasons.

· Threats to maritime safety: There is insufficient water depth in both the harbor and at the pier for the intended deep-draft LPG import vessels; dredging must be completed to ensure under-keel clearance requirements;

· Lack of public safety resources and capacity: Regional public safety and security resources are not currently sufficient to address a significant land-based or maritime incident; essential plans to address potential fires and explosions do not exist;

· Lack of risk management planning: To date, regulators have not accounted for the full impact of necessary risk mitigation measures, nor do permits require implementation of hazard plans or cost sharing. GHT states “the absence of a cost sharing plan results in disproportionate levels of cost and responsibility being shifted from the facility operator (DCP Searsport LLC) to municipal, state and federal response organizations. These organizations will be faced with providing funding for any additional training, manpower, equipment… or choosing to forego important risk mitigation measures.”

· Possibility of future conversion from LPG importing to exporting: GHT warns that because of the current over-abundance of propane gas in the U.S., nearly all plans to develop gas import facilities such as the proposed Searsport terminal have been abandoned or converted to plans for exporting gas. GHT questions whether, once built, the project developer will convert to a gas exporting operation, which would bring substantially changed and greater risks to the area.

Background: DCP Searsport is owned by DCP Midstream Partners, LP, which is, in turn, a wholly owned subsidiary of Phillips 66 and Spectra Energy. The proposed $40 million, 48-acre LPG terminal would be among largest ever built on the East Coast. It would include a deepwater pier and unloading facility capable of receiving ocean-going LPG tankers, a mile-long pipeline to a 22.7 million gallon cryogenic LPG storage tank and a 90,000 gallon pressurized LPG storage tank, and a vast array of industrial components. It would be the largest LPG marine terminal on the East Coast and one of the largest in the world.

To download the full Good Harbor Techmark All Hazards Assessment or separate sections, including the Executive Summary, follow this link.

Islesboro Islands Trust is a non-profit land trust serving the community of Islesboro and the Penobscot Bay region of Maine. IIT’s mission is to enhance the quality of residents' lives through the preservation of open space, educate all residents as to the value of the islands' natural ecosystems, and act as an environmental advocate on behalf of Islesboro and the surrounding Penobscot Bay region.

See Richard Clarke bio at http://www.richardaclarke.net/bio.php.

For more information, email or call:
Steve Miller, Executive Director, Islesboro Islands Trust, 207-734-6907 iitsmill@gmail.com; or
Steve Hinchman, Project Attorney, 207-837-8637 stevehinchman@gmail.com

http://www.penbaylpg.org/

Posted on Monday, January 14, 2013 (Archive on Monday, February 04, 2013)
Posted by Jym St. Pierre   Contributed by Jym St. Pierre
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