Connecticut Attorney General Calls Coast Guard Modernization Plan ‘Fiasco’

January 9, 2007
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal is urging federal regulators to reject Broadwater because “fiasco and scandal” in the Coast Guard’s failed modernization plan means it lacks the ships to protect the project.

The Coast Guard’s “Deepwater” modernization plan is plagued by delays, cost overruns and design failures that have left with the service without enough vessels, a problem that will grow worse in coming years, according to recent reports in The New York Times, The Washington Post and other publications. The Coast Guard has confirmed the reports.

“The Deepwater debacle should doom Broadwater,” Blumenthal said. “The Coast Guard’s failing Deepwater modernization program means Broadwater will force taxpayers to bear intolerable costs and risks.”

Blumenthal has written the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission urging it to reject Broadwater because the program’s failure means the Coast Guard won’t have the ships or equipment to protect the facility or respond to a catastrophic accident. Blumenthal noted that the Coast Guard has already said it lacks the resources to guard Broadwater, a situation that will worsen because of the modernization plan’s failure.

“Recent authoritative reports of fiasco and scandal in the Coast Guard’s modernization project add compelling evidence to my fight against the Broadwater,” Blumenthal said in the letter. “This new information shows that the Coast Guard’s plan to expand and upgrade its fleet is a colossal failure and provides new evidence that the Coast Guard cannot address accidents or attacks on the proposed Broadwater energy facility or tankers supplying it.

“This project is plagued by cost overruns and design failures. A plan to modernize the Coast Guard’s 110-foot cutters, mainstays of the fleet, has been cancelled because the remodeled vessels were found to be un-seaworthy. A planned new 147-foot ship design failed so completely that it has been scrapped. The first production model of a new, heavy cutter has cost almost twice as much as planned and has structural weaknesses that may threaten its safety. Plainly, the Coast Guard’s lack of adequate resources will soon be even worse.

“The Coast Guard’s report states explicitly the dangers from potential catastrophic fires that may result from a collision, other accidents or an attack on the facility or on the supertankers that will re-supply it. Among the disastrous consequences are a loss of life and environmental damage to the Sound. The litany of failures in the Coast Guard program – ballooning costs, expanding delays, structural flaws such as hull cracks, engine failure and inoperative equipment – is another compelling reason that Broadwater cannot safely be approved.

“Even before the release of this new information, the Coast Guard said it was incapable of providing security for the Broadwater project. Plainly, the Coast Guard’s lack of resources will soon be even worse. For the foreseeable future, the Coast Guard cannot effectively enforce the minimum required security zones around the Broadwater project and its supply tankers. Therefore, this project cannot receive FERC approval.”

View the Broadwater letter – (PDF-173KB).

Source: Attorney General’s Office, State of Connecticut

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