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Precautions are never out of order when LNG plant goes on-line

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

Posted on August 12, 2001:

Senator Dyson I still have some concerns and questions about what appears to be the inevitable start-up of the Liquid Natural Gas facility in Cove Point. However, I have spent a lot of time finding out more about this plant and what would happen if something catastrophic were to happen there. I am pleased to report that I have been assured by local and state emergency management officials that if something disastrous were to happen, crews are ready at a momentís notice to step in and contain a problem before it gets out of control.

While I believe these experts and know that the crews they deploy such as our volunteer fire and rescue personnel in Calvert and St. Maryís counties as well as those at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station would do a great job, there are questions that remain.

Many of those concerns will be raised at a public meeting held by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the Solomons Island Holiday Inn on August 2 at 7 p.m. The FERC has oversight over the LNG plant as it does all energy producing facilities in the U.S.

The questions that will be asked at that meeting will concern mainly what will happen if a disaster is to occur at the plant. I can understand why people who live near the plant have concerns about the facility. When the plant was fully operational 20 years ago, there were 4,431 total housing units in Calvert Countyís First District, where the Cove Point LNG facility is located. In 1999, there were 11,340. Thatís a staggering number of new developments. The Calvert County Planning and Zoning Department estimates each unit has an average of three members living in each dwelling so thatís at least 20,730 more people living in the area than did in 1980. These 20,000 residents need to be assured they are safe. And I believe from what I hear that they will be. I am not against this plant -- I am against putting this plant online before all questions are answered. On and off shore.

I have received a promise from the U.S. Coast Guard that they will conduct a seperate public meeting to address the vessel traffic coming into the Chesapeake Bay and docking at the Cove Point Plant. I expect this meeting to be held in Calvert County in September.

We have just recently experienced an oil spill the likes of which Maryland has never seen. This was something that wasnít supposed to happen. But it did. And despite impressive cleanup efforts by the Maryland Departments of the Environment and Natural Resources, the area still needs a lot of work. We need to make sure something like this does not happen -- especially in the Chesapeake Bay.

Another damaging spill such as the one that occurred at the Chalk Point Pepco facility in 2000 is not an option.

[ Return To Senator Roy Dyson's Newsletter ]

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