The U.S. Coast Guard Friday denied -- for a third time -- Weaver's Cove Energy's appeal and affirmed that the waterway is navigationally unsuitable for deliveries of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to an import terminal proposal for Fall River, MA.

The latest ruling upholds previous Coast Guard decision in 2008 and 2007, which effectively blocked the proposed LNG terminal on the eastern shore of Massachusetts.

Still under appeal is a Weaver's Cove's proposal to construct a berth for tankers in Mount Hope Bay and underwater pipeline facilities (see Daily GPI, Sept. 1, 2009). Weaver's Cove, a joint venture of Hess Corp. and Poten & Partners, had submitted the berth proposal in an attempt to suppress some of the controversy surrounding the project. (see Daily GPI, Feb. 5, 2009).

Four Rhode Island Democrats -- Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Reps. Patrick Kennedy and Jim Langevin -- who have been working to block the siting of LNG marine terminals in urban communities that would require LNG tankers to pass by 11 Rhode Island towns and cities and more than 25 miles of densely populated coastline, applauded the Coast Guard's decision.

"The Coast Guard's letter is another reminder that Mount Hope Bay and the Taunton River are not appropriate places for an LNG terminal and associated vessel traffic," said Reed. "From a safety, economic and environmental standpoint, it is clear that the Weaver's Cove LNG proposal would place a burden on the Coast Guard, local law enforcement, taxpayers and the resources of Mount Hope and Narragansett Bays. I will continue working with colleagues from Rhode Island and Massachusetts to oppose this project."

"I'm committed to stopping this facility and glad that the Coast Guard reaffirmed that Weaver's Cove is not the right place for an LNG terminal," said Whitehouse.

In May 2008 Rear Admiral Timothy Sullivan, commander of the First Coast Guard District, upheld the October 2007 decision of Coast Guard Captain Roy Nash, the captain of the port at the time, which concluded that the channel from Prudence Island, RI, to the proposed terminal was unsafe due to navigational hazards associated with the large tankers that would transport LNG to the facility.

"After thorough review of the detailed appeal by Weaver's Cove Energy, I support Captain Nash's decision that the waterway is unsafe in the vicinity of the Brightman Street bridges for the transit of LNG tankers because of the same navigational hazards previously addressed," Sullivan said.

The Weaver's Cove project, which the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved in mid-2005, 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 2007 the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection suspended review of the project (see Daily GPI, June 6, 2007).

In a May 2007 letter to Weaver's Cove CEO Gordon Shearer, Nash upheld his Oct. 24 decision, which concluded that "the waterway from near Sandy Point, Prudence Island, Rhode Island...to the proposed facility in Fall River, MA, is unsuitable from a navigation safety perspective for the type, size and frequency of LNG marine traffic," associated with the Weaver's Cove terminal project.

"After a thorough review of your request...I find no substantive issue, nor new information, that would suggest my recommendation of unsuitability was incorrect or made without due consideration of the record. Consequently, I stand by my Oct. 24, 2007 recommendation," Nash said in his letter to Shearer.

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