Weaver Cove LNG terminal waterway unsuitable due to navigational safety

BOSTON – The Coast Guard announced today its determination that the waterway approach to the proposed Weaver’s Cove Liquefied Natural Gas terminal in Fall River, Mass., is unsuitable for LNG tanker traffic due to navigational safety challenges.

In his letter of recommendation, the Captain of the Port and Commander of Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England, Capt. Roy Nash, said that a segment of the transit route extending from Sandy Point to the Weaver’s Cove site, presents significant navigational safety challenges to the proposed LNG vessels’ size and transit frequency.

“Vessel masters would face extraordinary navigational maneuvers when transiting the waterway and the safety risks are too great to favorably recommend the waterway as suitable.” said Nash.

Chief among the Coast Guard’s concerns is the limited maneuvering room between the old and new Brightman Street bridges. The bridges are nearly parallel to each other and are only about 1100 feet apart. The opening in the old bridge is only 98 feet wide and is not aligned with the new bridge opening. The proposed tankers are well over 700 feet in length, over 80 feet wide, with drafts up to 37.5 feet.

The proposed transit route would also bring LNG vessels to within 100 feet of the U.S.S. Massachusetts museum, the Braga Bridge, and the State Pier.

Nash stated “After an exhaustive analysis of a considerable amount of information, I have concluded that such transits cannot be conducted safely on a routine, repeatable basis, and that the risk of a mishap in Mount Hope Bay, and particularly in the Taunton River in the vicinity of the two Brightman Street bridges, is unacceptably high.”

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is the lead agency for permitting construction of LNG facilities. The Coast Guard assists FERC by comprehensively assessing the suitability of the waterway for LNG transits.

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