A crucial water quality permit being sought by NorthernStar Natural Gas Corp. for its proposed Bradwood Landing liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility along the Columbia River in Oregon was thrust into doubt by a Feb. 17 letter from the state director of the Environmental Quality (EQ) Department, alleging that an essential evaluation had not been properly completed by the LNG terminal backers. EQ Director Dick Petersen has suggested Bradwood withdraw and then resubmit its application to ovoid a denial.
Northern Star Senior Vice President Joe Desmond, told local news media the Bradwood project backers are still assessing Petersen’s letter to determine whether to follow his advice and withdraw the project’s application and resubmit something later, or to carry on toward a May 8 deadline under the federal Clean Water Act.
The facility would be located on a 40-acre site at the former town site of Bradwood in Clatsop County, which is about 38 miles up the Columbia River from the Pacific Ocean — the main economic artery for the Pacific Northwest. The project would provide up to 1.3 Bcf/d of natural gas to the region.
“It is our determination that EQ is unable to adequately evaluate impacts to water quality from the project as proposed without [specific additional] information,” Petersen wrote in his letter to NorthernStar.
Petersen chided the LNG project developer for allegedly not providing three-dimensional computer modeling and sampling, which his department considers “essential” to evaluate erosion, water quality and fish habitat issues. Houston-based NorthernStar is slated to begin construction of the facility later this year.
State officials have said that the Bradwood two-dimensional modeling is inadequate for the department to evaluate the project’s proposed impact on the Columbia River estuary, noting that water sampling is needed from peak flows in March to low flows in August. The state said it made this same request last November.
Oregon’s EQ department indicated it also wants to see the outcome of an evaluation by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) Fisheries Service that is called a biological opinion. That study is ongoing to examine the potential harm to threatened and endangered salmon. NOAA supposed noted that there has been “inadequate” environmental review by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as part of its conditioned approval of the Bradwood project.
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