Coast Guard OKs Yemeni shipment

February 11, 2010
By

The public need for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) has outweighed the risk of allowing a Yemini LNG tanker from entering Boston Harbor, passing yards away from East Boston’s shoreline and offloading in Everett at the end of this month.

The United States Coast Guard, following a hearing last month led by House Speaker Robert DeLeo regarding the safety and security of the LNG tankers, ruled to allow the Yemeni shipment of LNG into the harbor.

The ruling was immediately met with opposition from elected officials including Mayor Thomas Menino—who has led the crusade to keep the Yemeni shipment away from the harbor.

“I am disappointed by the decision of the United States Coast Guard to allow the shipment of LNG from Yemen and believe that this is the wrong decision for the people and the metropolitan area,” said Menino. “It is unreasonable and unsafe to continually put the interests of large corporations ahead of the security of area residents and it is time to solve this problem once and for all.”

Menino added that extra security alone is not a proper solution and it is the duty of the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, to develop a long-term strategy that will significantly limit, if not eliminate, the need for LNG tankers to travel through Boston Harbor.

Menino, joined neighboring elected officials and began to try and halt the upcoming LNG shipment from Yemen back in December. Recently the terrorist network Al Qaida’s has reemerged in the country and is claiming responsibility for the failed Christmas Day bombing of an airline traveling from Amsterdam to Detroit. The Nigerian man responsible allegedly trained in Yemen with a terror group with ties to Al Qaida.

Speaker DeLeo (D -Winthrop) held a safety summit last month to discuss the potential risk posed by Distrigas’ scheduled shipments of LNG to its Everett terminal from Yemen.

At that summit, Distrigas’ President Frank Katulak gave an overview of the LNG, the tankers that carry the gas and the offloading facility in Everett.

Katulak dispelled notions that these tankers can just simply blow up.

Katulak said the ships are built extremely well and are more robust than regular fuel tankers; their safety record is impeccable.

His presentation was followed by the Coast Guard. Representatives there walked lawmakers through the security procedures that all public safety agencies go through to ensure the safety of LNG shipments.

The Coast Guard said there are security measures in place at Yemen that limit access to the ship, a checkpoint stop before the ship reaches the U.S. and another checkpoint stop before the tanker enters the Boston Harbor.

At the final stop both the tanker captain and Coast Guard conduct a methodical security sweep of the ship before it is allowed to enter the harbor.

If there is any suspicion that the ship is not safe, the Coast Guard can refuse its entry.

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