Citing concerns about a planned liquefied natural gas (LNG) shipment from terrorist-torn Yemen to Boston Harbor in February, a Boston Globe editorial Tuesday chided natural gas industry and public officials for not coming up with a “safer alternative” to the Distrigas of Massachusetts import terminal in Everett, MA (see Daily GPI, Jan. 5).

“Shipping [LNG] in massive tankers to Everett through narrow Boston Harbor has always been dangerous, no matter where the gas was loaded. And while a recent Al-Qaeda plot hatched in Yemen has heightened local fears about a planned delivery next month of [LNG] loaded in that troubled country, it doesn’t justify an outright prohibition on the shipment.

“Nonetheless the Yemen connection underscores the need for stringent security for all such shipments — and offers a reminder that gas industry and public officials should have long ago begun planning a safer alternative to the Distrigas facility in Everett,” the editorial said.

Terminal owner GDF Suez fired back at the editorial. “We are pleased that the editorial discussed the importance of the Everett terminal and the critical role that the terminal plays in New England gas supply,” said Julie Vitek, a spokeswoman for GDF Suez. “However, we respectfully differ [on] the location of the Everett terminal as we feel its location is strategic and close to customers.”

The Boston Globe said even if you take the resurgence of terrorism on domestic soil out of the equation, the terminal’s location is still not ideal. “The facility was built 40 years ago, long before a terrorist associated with Al-Qaeda tried to blow up a Northwest Airlines jet bound for Detroit. Yet bringing LNG tankers through Boston Harbor was always a poor idea…What’s needed is a new Distrigas facility in a more sparsely populated part of New England,” the newspaper noted. The Distrigas LNG terminal is the oldest LNG terminal in the United States.

“As much as 40% of New England’s gas comes to the region aboard ships, supplementing the pipelines that connect the region to sources in the South or in Canada. On an annual basis, the region gets 20% of its gas from LNG. Gas utilities through the region depend on tanker-truck deliveries of [LNG] from Everett to keep their customers supplied.

“Al-Qaeda is all too aware of the tanker shipments. In his 2004 book, former U.S. counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke wrote that before 9/11 Al-Qaeda had smuggled agents into this country on board the tankers…After the 9/11 attacks, U.S. officials temporarily closed Boston Harbor to the shipments until they could put adequate security measures in place. Those attacks should also have prompted government and industry officials to begin seeking an alternative to Everett. After more than eight years, such as effort is long overdue,” the Globe editorial said (see Daily GPI, April 29, 2004; Sept. 28, 2001).

©Copyright 2010Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news reportmay not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in anyform, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.