The LNG terminal will benefit the environment by supplying New England with additional supplies of natural gas - the cleanest fossil fuel. Over the past five years, all large new electric power plants in New England, including those in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have been designed to burn natural gas to meet stringent air quality standards. This will result in a significant improvement in the quality of the air we breathe, as natural gas produces less particulates and other pollutants than oil or coal. New gas-fired power plants are also more efficient than oil- and coal-fired plants and use less fuel to produce the same amount of electricity.
There are environmental impacts associated with the development of this project. Potential temporary impacts on the surrounding areas from the LNG terminal include water quality, visual impacts, air quality and noise pollution during construction and impacts to historical resources.
The transport of LNG through ocean waters, rivers and bays has an excellent environmental record. The record of LNG transport is spotless - over 45,000 ship deliveries without any significant spills onto the water. Even if there were to be an incident where the double-hulled tanker were breached and LNG spilled, the LNG would simply evaporate or, more likely, burn completely without a trace remaining in the water. By comparison, during the past three decades alone, hundreds of millions of gallons of oil have been released into our environment from oil spills.
The project's dredging program has been extensively reviewed and includes detailed chemical analysis of the sediments to be removed, as well as studies evaluating how the sediment might travel and impact the marine environment during the dredging process. Potential impacts have been documented and they are of limited duration and limited extent. The project will be required to meet stringent state and federal water quality standards throughout the dredging operation. Dredging will be prohibited in specific sections of the channel during certain seasons in order to further limit impacts.
Dredged materials may be stabilized (by mixing with cement to create a more stable product) and placed on the site for use during the construction process. This work has been designed to permit the continuing remediation of the historical contamination under the site. As a result, the LNG project will return an underutilized parcel of contaminated industrial land back to productive operation.
The proposed site for the LNG terminal has been a home to industry for decades. The site was used actively from 1920 to the mid 1990s for importing, processing, storing and distributing petroleum products. Existing structures on the site include empty storage tanks and an office building.
The LNG terminal development is consistent with this past industrial use, but will eliminate a significant eyesore. Proposed features of the new development will include an LNG storage tank, a new pier, several small support buildings and earthen landforms, some of which will be visible from some areas in Fall River and Somerset. While the ships are in transit, docking and unloading, they will also be clearly visible.
The most obvious feature of the LNG terminal facility will be the storage tank. This storage tank will be approximately 300 feet in diameter and 200 feet in height. Earthen berms, landforms and other landscaping features may be constructed to minimize the visual impact of the tank while allowing for the disposal of dredge material in an environmentally acceptable fashion. However, the proposed tank will remain visible from some areas. All the old storage tanks will be removed and the surface area of the site cleaned up before we begin construction of the new facilities.
The operational facilities at the LNG terminal will not be a major source of air or noise pollution. LNG terminals, thanks to their design, are clean and quiet compared to most industrial operations.
Noise related to the construction of the terminal may be noticeable from properties immediate to the site during the three year construction period. To the extent possible, construction noise on the site will be limited to the hours between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Noise related to pipeline construction will be limited to a concentrated area and for a relatively short period of time.
Fall River is an area rich in historic resources. The city's industrial past is evident in the many historic mill buildings. Weaver's Cove Energy is required to consider the impact of the proposed project on historic and archeological resources within the project area.
Site specific studies have been completed for the areas to be dredged, the plant site and the pipeline routes. There are no known archeological resources within the main plant area and the proposed dredging areas. These areas have all been disturbed in the recent past. There are a number of historic sites that have been identified along the pipeline routes and these are being reviewed and addressed under the permitting process, just as is done for any utility work where soils are disturbed.
Historic resources in the project area include buildings registered on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. The only aspect of these properties which could be potentially impacted by the LNG Terminal is the view, since the LNG storage tank will be visible from some properties in Fall River and Somerset. Weaver's Cove Energy has completed an extensive analysis to examine the potential impacts of the storage tank on the views from these historic properties.
Weaver's Cove Energy will consider mitigating visual impacts to the extent possible by installing earthen berms and landforms and improving the landscaping and vegetation of the site. Visual impacts from the pipeline route are limited to a short period of time during the construction effort and the pipeline routes will be restored to their pre-construction state after the lines are laid.