Fisheries agency opposes LNG proposal south of Dauphin Island

Published 11:00 pm Saturday, October 6, 2007

A federal fisheries agency opposes a proposed liquefied natural gas import terminal 62 miles south of Dauphin Island, saying it could cause significant adverse impacts in the Gulf of Mexico.

Houston-based TORP Terminal LP has proposed using 46 billion gallons of seawater from the Gulf each year to warm the super-chilled liquid into a gaseous product that can be injected into the nation’s natural gas pipeline network.

Living things in the water, primarily the eggs and larvae of creatures that swim in the Gulf, including swordfish, red snapper, grouper, jacks, crabs and shrimp, would be killed, with a toll that could be measured in the billions per year, the National Marine Fisheries Service wrote in its formal comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project.

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TORP CEO Joseph Berno told the Press-Register in a story Friday that he wasn’t surprised by the agency’s comments.

“They’ve been critical of all of the (seawater) systems,” Berno said.

There is another method for treating the imported LNG that doesn’t use seawater, but it would require several million dollars per year in additional costs.

The fisheries agency also said the proposed TORP facility causes a portion of TORP’s “operational costs to be borne by the public” because, in essence, the company has not offered sufficient compensation for damage caused to public fisheries.

Berno said TORP was trying to create a solar-powered LNG plant, utilizing the Gulf water as a method of capturing the sun’s energy to heat the LNG.

While TORP officials dispute that the terminal would have a measurable impact on the Gulf ecosystem, scientists at the state and federal level oppose the project.

The method advocated by TORP would run the warm waters of the Gulf through a radiator-like network of pipes, warming super-chilled natural gas moving through an adjacent pipeline network.

An alternative technology uses natural gas to warm the LNG, and does not require seawater.

None of the LNG terminals slated for the Atlantic and Pacific coasts will use the seawater method, due primarily to resistance from the coastal states.