- The Washington Times - Monday, November 12, 2001

ANNAPOLIS Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski is calling on federal officials to reconsider a plan to allow tankers to deliver liquefied natural gas (LNG) to a terminal a few miles from the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plant.
"I want to make sure every single agency with authority over LNG plants and shipping has looked at the risk of a terrorist attack," the Maryland Democrat said in a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) granted approval last month to a proposal by Williams Gas Pipeline of Tulsa, Okla., to accept deliveries from tankers that travel up the Chesapeake Bay to its natural gas terminal at Cove Point in Calvert County. The terminal is located about 31/2 miles from the nuclear power plant at Calvert Cliffs.
If the proposal wins approval from other federal and state agencies, tankers carrying 34 million gallons of LNG would make deliveries once a week to the Cove Point terminal beginning in the second or third quarter of 2002, said Mike Gardner, district manager for Williams Gas Pipeline Cove Point LNG.
Miss Mikulski said she is "deeply alarmed" about the terminal's proximity to Calvert Cliffs, particularly now that federal security officials have warned that nuclear power plants are at risk of attacks from terrorists.
"If LNG tankers are allowed on the Chesapeake near Calvert Cliffs, a nightmare scenario could become reality," she said.
Miss Mikulski said LNG is carried by foreign-flag tankers with foreign crews. One source is Algeria, where Islamic radicals have been linked to Osama bin Laden's terrorist network.
"What were they thinking when they gave their preliminary approval on October 11?" she asked of FERC.
Tamara Young-Allen, FERC spokeswoman, said the commission did not consider security issues at Cove Point because the U.S. Coast Guard has jurisdiction in such matters.
The Coast Guard is conducting a review, scheduled for completion sometime next month, of the expansion plans at the Cove Point terminal.
Jim Shannon, a director of operations for Williams, said the company does not believe LNG deliveries to its terminal would pose any danger to the nuclear plant or the public.
Mr. Shannon said LNG could catch fire but would not explode. Federal regulators have established a 1,600-foot "thermal exclusion zone" around the terminal to keep out people or property that could be damaged in a fire. The zone's perimeter is more than three miles from the Calvert Cliffs plant.
"We feel an event is very unlikely, but if there is one, anything would be contained to the plant property," Mr. Shannon said.
Miss Mikulski said she is "not interested in debating the company."
"What I want to point out is that every permitting agency is looking at this as an energy issue," she said. "I want them to look at this as a national security issue."
Miss Mikulski said she was calling the issue to the attention of Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, FBI Director Robert S Mueller III, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant James Loy, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Richard Meserve and other federal and state officials.
"I'm just being hyper-vigilant," she said.
Last week, Massachusetts incurred more than $20,000 in security costs to guard a 948-foot tanker carrying 33 million gallons of LNG as it moved through Boston Harbor to a terminal in Everett.
The chairman of the Massachusetts Senate's budget committee has called for the company that operates the terminal, Distrigas, to pay the cost of the additional security.
Distrigas has said that the millions of dollars in federal, state and local taxes it pays every year should include police and fire protection.
The Distrigas facility is one of three LNG terminals in the country accepting tanker deliveries, and the only one close to a major city. The others are in Louisiana and Georgia. The Cove Point terminal would be the fourth.


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