Gordon Shearer, CEO of Weaver's Cove Energy LLC, the backer of a long-suffering proposal for a liquefied natural gas (LNG) receipt terminal in Fall River, MA, got more bad news last Wednesday in a letter from the U.S. Coast Guard. The project's demise could be at hand, but a spokesman says an appeal is as well.

"My ultimate recommendation is that the waterway from near Sandy Point, Prudence Island, Rhode Island...to the proposed facility in Fall River, Massachusetts, is unsuitable from a navigation safety perspective for the type, size and frequency of LNG marine traffic associated with your proposal," wrote U.S. Coast Guard Captain Roy A. Nash.

Weaver's Cove spokesman Jim Grasso told NGI the company has been working with about 27 agencies on the project and has been able to resolve whatever issues have been raised, "and we hope to do the same thing with the Coast Guard." He said Nash's decision is flawed and an appeal would be mounted.

"The decision that he made disregards crucial facts in the record and introduces both new data and new concerns on which Weaver's Cove Energy was not provided an opportunity to comment," Grasso said. "Further, and I think this is important, the decision lacks the necessary factual support needed to arrive at his conclusions and therefore...we intend to appeal. I have not spoken to the attorneys yet, so I don't know where the attorneys are going to appeal. You can typically appeal to the Coast Guard; you have 30 days. You can appeal to Captain Nash."

The Weaver's Cove project is sponsored by Hess LNG and Poten & Partners. It received FERC approval in mid-2005 and has been the target of intense opposition by local, state and federal officials. If built, it would provide 800 MMcf/d of peak sendout capacity, 400 MMcf/d of baseload supply and 200,000 metric tons of LNG storage. In June the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection suspended review of the project following an unfavorable decision by the U.S. Coast Guard that the agency said "casts serious doubt as to the feasibility of the project" (see NGI, June 11; May 21).

In August Rhode Island authorities denied Weaver's Cove sponsors permission to dredge approximately 230,000 cubic yards of the navigation channel in Mount Hope Bay (see NGI, Aug. 20).

"[N]o additional public meetings and workshops with state and local officials to further address security risks, resource demands, capabilities and coordination requirements will be held," Nash wrote in his Wednesday letter. "Moreover, as I view the safety of navigation as paramount, my recommendation that the waterway is unsuitable generated no additional environmental documentation requirements.

"Should there be significant changes to the characteristics of the waterway prior to the expiration of FERC's approval order in July 2010, Weaver's Cove may submit a new letter of intent..."

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