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The Good Guys

Broadwater Alert: Public Hearings held on the proposed LNG Platform in Long Island Sound


By Adrian Little

As recreational boaters in Long Island Sound we have the following major concerns about the impact of the Broadwater project on our safe and unimpeded use of this public trust area. This is not to say that the bigger environmental and public land use issues are not of paramount importance – of course they are – but what we have to achieve as boaters is an awareness as to how our sport and recreation time will be negatively impacted by this project.

First, we want the boating public to realize exactly how much of their Sound will be taken away by this project – a project that is using public water for private gain.

The LNG platform itself is 1200 feet long. Our understanding is that it is going to be attached to a swinging mooring. If one uses safe boating practice and assumes that a scope of chain seven times the water depth will be used to anchor the platform one ends up with a structure that in fact takes up 2000 feet.

2000 feet is the radius of the swinging circle – add to that the expected 3000-foot exclusion zone and we end up with a circle one and a half miles in diameter that boats will be prohibited from entering. For those thousands of boats without radar or GPS how are they supposed to know exactly when they cross the “no-go zone”?

Even more egregious and unacceptable is that, on the plan submitted to the Coast Guard, Broadwater have identified a “tanker maneuvering zone” that is approximately 5 miles in diameter – that is nearly one third of the entire distance across the Sound that would be off limits to recreational boaters!

The plan calls for 3-4 tankers a week to seek access to the platform, all of which have to come in and out through the Race. We all know how narrow that area is, and it is to be expected that the Race will be off limits to boaters every time there is a tanker movement. We have yet to be told specifics by the Coast Guard but if we use the model for Boston harbor gas tankers then there is an exclusion zone for 3000 feet ahead and behind a gas carrier. We presume that this will be a moving exclusion zone all the way down the Sound from the Race to New Haven .

The Race is a great meeting place for fishermen and an integral part of all the long sailboat races that are held in the Sound. In addition, most cruising boats going east to Rhode Island , Block Island and Massachusetts use the Race as their entry to Block Island Sound and beyond. How are we supposed to deal with six to eight tanker movements a week when the schedules will probably not be published? How are we supposed to co-ordinate our arrivals with suitable tides when that may clash with a tanker movement?

The next area of concern for boaters is one of boating safety. Whilst we acknowledge that the Coast Guard’s mission has changed in the last four years there is still a mandate to perform search and rescue. How many Coast Guard assets are going to be taken from an already stretched service to provide personal security services to a commercial venture that is not even going to pay for it? We the citizens are paying for it – both with our tax dollars and also with a reduction in the service we can expect the Coast Guard to provide.

The last issue, which is not specific to boaters but which has the potential to impact all of us, is what will happen to this monstrosity if it becomes the object of terrorists or when it breaks loose in a hurricane. We can only hope that all the first responders along the shoreline are having their say on this, because it is the Connecticut coast that will bear the brunt of a grounding or worse. In light of the recent events in the Gulf of Mexico we doubt that anyone can come up with a persuasive argument that this event will not happen or that it can be planned for. 

Approximate location of proposed Broadwater LNG station.

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