The U.S. Coast Guard issued a letter of recommendation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on March 18, 2009, stating the waterway proposed for use by vessel traffic associated with the AES Sparrows Point liquefied natural gas facility in Baltimore, Md., remains unsuitable, but can be made suitable, provided that recommended risk mitigation measures outlined in a supporting waterway suitability report are fully implemented and resources, capabilities and partnerships with the port community are in place.
The letter, issued by Capt. Brian D. Kelley, Captain of the Port for Coast Guard Sector Baltimore, and Capt. Trapp, Captain of the Port for Coast Guard Sector Hampton Roads, states that if and when the risk mitigation measures are put into effect by AES, they will sufficiently mitigate the identified risks associated with LNG traffic on the Patapsco. The waterway includes the waters of the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries.
The Coast Guard made its suitability determination after a comprehensive review that followed applicable U.S. Coast Guard Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circulars. The review focused on navigational safety and maritime security risks posed by LNG marine traffic and the measures needed to responsibly manage those risks. During the review, the Coast Guard consulted a variety of stakeholders, including the Area Maritime Security Committees, Pilots Association, Maryland Department of Transportation, Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and Maryland Department of Natural Resources to name but a few.
“The Coast Guard continually works with federal, state, and local partners as well as the marine and energy industries to execute its missions. Collaborative efforts include plan development, coordinated operations and spill / terrorism exercise. The security mission incorporates support from other government agencies. In repeated discussions with our partners it is clear the port community does not currently have the resources available to implement the safety and security measures necessary to adequately manage the associated risks of the AES Sparrows Point LNG facility,” said Capt. Kelley.
The letter of recommendation was produced by the Coast Guard as part of the agency’s contribution to the FERC review process. FERC has responsibility for LNG facility siting, environmental impact, construction authorization and for issuing certificates for import and export of LNG.
For more information about FERC’s permitting process visit their website at http://www.ferc.gov/industries/lng/enviro/pub-involve.asp.