The U.S. Navy, having suddenly discovered that LNG cargoes might be traversing their torpedo testing grounds, has joined the growing chorus of parties asking FERC to reconsider its decision last month to approve the controversial Weaver’s Cove LNG import terminal project in Fall River, MA.

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division (NUWC) in Newport, RI, which borders on Narragansett Bay near the channel LNG tankers would use to get to Fall River, contends the tanker traffic would interfere with its testing of multi-million dollar submarines, torpedoes and sonar systems.

“The moving safety and security zone to be enforced around LNG tankers as they transit the lower Narragansett Bay to the proposed terminal will significantly and adversely impact in-water testing” conducted by the NUWC, the Navy told FERC in a motion filed Friday [CP04-36].

The Navy asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to allow it to intervene and reopen the evidentiary record in the case to receive further evidence, noting that the agency’s environmental review and July 15 order approving the terminal project made “no substantive mention of the Navy’s presence or activities in Narragansett, nor the potential impact of the proposal on the Navy.”

The Navy said it didn’t learn of the Weaver’s Cove LNG project and the “potential impact to its mission” until after FERC approved the project last month (see Daily GPI, July 1).

The Navy joins a number of state officials who are opposed to siting the LNG project in Fall River and/or have sought rehearing of the Commission decision, including Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the attorneys general from Massachusetts and Rhode Island and Fall River Mayor Edward M. Lambert (see Daily GPI, Aug. 12).

The opponents may have a fighting chance this time due to language that was added by Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) to the recently enacted Transportation Equity Act erecting a major road block to the LNG project. The new law bars the use of federal funds to demolish the Brightman Street Bridge, connecting Fall River and Somerset MA., to make way for LNG cargo traffic (see Daily GPI, Aug. 10).

Romney informed FERC last week that the old bridge would not be destroyed based on the new law. “Inasmuch as the approval of the Weaver’s Cove proposal is predicated on the removal of the existing Brightman Street Bridge, I wish to inform you of the Commonwealth’s intention to preserve the existing bridge for pedestrian, bicycle and emergency access.”

Amerada Hess and Poten Partners, sponsors of the LNG terminal project, have been counting on the bridge being destroyed so they can fit their LNG tankers through and reach the Fall River destination.

The $250 million LNG project, if built, would provide 800 MMcf/d of peak sendout capacity and 200,000 metric tons of LNG storage in New England.

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