TOP 5 THREATS
1. SITING IN A RESIDENTIAL AREA (The "Disappeared")
In its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC),
Dominion grossly misrepresented local demographics, implying that its gas
refinery, liquefaction, and export facility - like other proposed LNG export sites
in the U.S. - is located in a remote area. DCP’s application described nearby
“major population” centers as totaling 4,906 people (1), when in fact the
described area holds 44,638 people (2). Dominion never even mentions Lusby,
where the facility is located and which holds the single largest population in
Calvert County: 20,483 (3) – nearly one-quarter of the County. Somehow, Dominion "disappeared" 39,732 people.
DCP also ignores industry siting standards. The Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO), to which DCP belongs, states: (a) “LNG ports must be located where LNG vapors from a spill or release cannot affect civilians”, and (b) “There is no acceptable probability for a catastrophic LNG release.” (4) Yet the facility is located just across the street from its neighbors.
SIGTTO’s standards also refer to a U.S. Department of Energy “Hazard Zone” of 2.2 miles, the minimum distance an LNG port should be located from civilians (5). There are 5,804 people living within Cove Point’s 2.2 mile “Hazard Zone” when measured from the onshore facility (6). And the offshore pier is located only 1 mile from land; the entire Cove Point Beach community lies within that 2.2 mile Hazard Zone. Should an accident at the pier result in a vapor cloud, Cove Point Beach is particularly at risk because vapor moves rapidly over water and is very difficult to control.
DCP’s risk of escalating and catastrophic accidents increases due to its tight
footprint, limited by prior legal agreement. In that space it now plans to build its
130 MW power plant, gas refinery, and liquefaction facility. On-site storage
capacity will allow 410,000 gallons of propane (7), 14.6 billion ft.3 of LNG (8),
and other toxic, carcinogenic, and potentially explosive chemicals including
ethane, acid-gases, and benzene. (In comparison, New York State recently
adopted new regulations (9) that recommend maximum storage of LNG at 5.78
million cubic ft. DCP’s tanks will hold up to 2,525 times that amount.)
DCP uses “single-containment” tanks (10), vulnerable to shrapnel should a
nearby explosion occur. If a tank is pierced, leaking LNG can result in vapor
clouds, which are extremely flammable (“fireball” explosions) and may asphyxiate the people they envelope. The closest homes are only a few hundred feet away.
U.S. LNG accidents in 2014 required evacuations from sites far more remote than Lusby, MD. In April, in Opal, WY, a three-mile evacuation affected the entire town – all 95 people (11). Plymouth, WA, evacuated 1,000 people (mostly agricultural workers) from a two-mile radius in March (12). What would have to be evacuated within two miles of DCP? Approximately 7,000 residents in 2,365 homes, plus 2 schools, 19 daycare centers, 3 churches, and 2 shopping centers. Immediately adjacent to DCP are the popular Calvert Cliffs State Park and Cove Point Park, with its sports fields, swimming pool, ball courts, picnic areas, and playgrounds. The Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant sits three miles away.
3. EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
Existing emergency response and evacuation plans are inadequate and unrealistic.
After months of insisting that any accidents would remain onsite and not require
evacuation, Dominion finally admitted that potential emergencies forcing an
evacuation include “a. Uncontrolled leak. b. Fire involving Natural Gas product.
c. Storm damage to facility. d. Hostile action or terrorist event. e. Rupture of
a Natural Gas Pipeline.” (13)
The current evacuation plan, which covers only a one-mile radius, sends residents
down narrow, winding, and largely unlit streets. Furthermore, residents east of the
facility have only one exit –passing right by the facility entrance. Dominion
recently purchased a property through which it apparently intends to provide a
new route, yet that exit, too, is near the facility entrance. It offers little more than a new evacuation traffic choke point. (14)
DCP depends upon local volunteer fire departments, yet these appear to be ill-prepared or trained for LNG industrial accidents. Residents continue to call for a comprehensive safety study, or "Quantitative Risk Analysis" (QRA) to identify and implement the best viable evacuation route prior to construction of the new facility, but so far these calls have been ignored by Dominion, FERC, and County officials.
4. AIR POLLUTION
Maryland already boasts the highest rate of premature deaths due to air
pollution (15), and Calvert County holds an American Lung Association air
rating of “F” (16). Yet DCP was able legally to “purchase” pollution credits
beyond the current limit – meaning Dominion can pollute excessively in Lusby,
because some plant somewhere else is "under" polluting… As a result, an
additional 625 tons of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and 166 tons of volatile organic
compounds (VOCs) – all hazardous and major contributors to ozone – will be
emitted over the life of Dominion's contract.
Annually, DCP will release 20.4 tons of pollutants, including carcinogens and
other toxins (17). Emissions categorized as “Toxic” and “Hazardous” include:
acetaldehyde, acrolein, ammonia, benzene, butane, ethylbenzene, fluoranthene, formaldehyde, hexane, hydrogen sulfidenitrous oxide, propylene oxide, sulfuric acid mist, toluene, zinc, xylenes, and suspended particulates. Some of these are carcinogens linked to increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease, especially in children and the elderly (18); others are safety hazards and/or environmental toxins.
Ultimately, DCP will add more greenhouse gases than all of Maryland’s coal-fired power plants combined (19). The new 130 MW power plant, built solely to power the liquefaction process, will be Maryland’s fourth-largest climate polluter. The promise of LNG exports has increased pressure for fracking, compressor stations, and additional pipelines in Maryland, and industry has begun to eye shale gas basins underlying Calvert County and the Virginia Tidewater (20,21). Regional networks of fracking compressor stations and pipelines are growing, despite links to drinking water contamination, air and noise pollution, illnesses and earthquakes.
In the Environmental Assessment, Dominion is supposed to have studied the
impact of project-related noise on nearby "Noise Sensitive Areas", such as homes
and playgrounds. However, Dominion's “noise study” considered only two houses
– both are immediately adjacent to the property (one is owned by DCP). The
effects of topography and wind appear not to have been considered in this "study".
Since Dominion’s expansion of the import terminal in 2006, nearby residents
have repeatedly asked the company to address existing noise problems, but
Dominion has never done so. Now – and contrary to Dominion's assertions – the
company has received per-mission to conduct construction 24 hours per day,
7 days per week. Day-time noise levels are permitted up to 90 dBA; night-time
to 55 dBA (22).
Dominion plans to build an experimental 60-foot high, mile-long wall - the tallest
structure in Calvert County (and about twice the height of the Great Wall of China) in an apparent effort to address noise issues. However, no design has ever been made public. And while DCP insisted for a year that this wall was solely designed as a noise barrier, the company now admits to the hope that it will also contain vapor-clouds (23). There are no plans for noise or vapor mitigation, however untested, to protect residents to the east or Calvert Cliffs State Park to the north.
1. Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP. 2013 FERC Certificate for Public Convenience and Necessity Application, Resource Report 5 – Socioeconomics., page 5-3.
2. U.S. Census Bureau using American Fact Finder, by zip code. Combined zip codes, Solomons to Prince Frederick, 2010 US Census. http://factfinder2.census.gov
3. U.S. Census Bureau using American Fact Finder, by zip code. Zip code 20657, 2010 US Census. http://factfinder2.census.gov
4. Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO). Site Selection & Design for LNG Pots & Jetties. 2/1997. Http://www.lngtss.org/standards.html
5. Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO). Site Selection & Design for LNG Pots & Jetties. 2/1997. Http://www.lngtss.org/standards.html
6. Missouri Census Data Center, Missouri Secretary of State. Using “Circular Area Profiles” (CAPS), Version 10-C. Measured from 38.3892487, -76.4094057. http://mcdc.missouri.edu/websas/caps10c.html
7. Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP, Docket No. CP13-113, Response To Data Request, P 4. 2/28/2014.
8. Dominion website: www.Dominion.com. "Terminal Operation.” https://www.dom.com/corporate/what-we-do/natural-gas/dominion-cove-point/cove-point-terminal
9. NY Department of Environmental Conservation. 6 NYCRR Part 570 – Regulation of Liquefied Natural Gas Facilities. Effective February 26, 2015. http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/93069.html
10. Dominion website: www.Dominion.com. "Frequently Asked Questions – Community Concerns." https://www.dom.com/corporate/what-we-do/natural-gas/dominion-cove-point/frequently-asked-questions
11. “Explosion, fire force evacuation of Wyoming town”, Trevor Hughes. USAToday. 4/23/2014. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/04/23/wyoming-explosion-town-evacuated/8071257/.
12. “4 injured, 200 evacuated after Washington natural gas plant explosion”, Associated Press. 3/31/2014. http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2014/03/4_injured_200_evacuated_after.html
13. Dominion Cove Point LNG LP, CP13-113, Supplemental Information – Condition No. 31. Letter dated 10/10/2014. Cove Point Evacuation Plan, Calvert County Emergency Management Division 2014. Page 2.
14. "Evacuation route eyed for Cove Point gas plant", Timothy B. Wheeler. The Baltimore Sun. 9/30/2104.
15. Caiazzo, F., A. Ashok, I. Waitz, S. Yim, and S.Barret. “Air pollution and early deaths in the United States”, Part 1: Quantifying the impact of major sectors in 2005. Atmospheric Environment 79 (Nov. 2013): 199-208.
16. American Lung Association, State of the Air 2014, Report Card: Maryland; Calvert County. http://www.stateoftheair.org/2014/states/maryland/
17. Dominion’s 2013 Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) Certificate for Public Convenience and Necessity Application, Resource Report 9 – Air& Noise Quality.
18. Carbon Pollution and Climate Change: Information Sheet. Physicians for Social Responsibility, 2013.
19. The Pollution Path: Fracked Gas Exports At Cove Point Would Harm Maryland. Chesapeake Climate Action Network. 2013.
20. "Taylorsville Basin’s shale oil deposits raising interest, concerns", Leslie Middleton. Bay Journal. December 05, 2013. (http://www.bayjournal.com/article/va_tidewater_communities_educating_themselves_on_fracking_issues)
21. “Maryland has Multiple Shale Basins?!” Marcellus Drilling News. 7/30/2012
22. Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP, Docket No. CP13-113, Supplemental Information, Condition No. 23 (Nighttime Construction Noise Analysis and Mitigation Plan). Page Page 1. 11/21/2014.
23. Dominion Submittal to FERC: Dominion Cove Point LNG, LP; CP 13-113; OEP/DG2E/LNG §375.308(x). 2/28/2014. Page 6.