(Dec. 1, 2005) -- The Long Beach Police Department's senior official responsible for evaluating an 80+ million gallon Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility proposed in the Port of LB has publicly questioned portions of the Port's draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) and explicitly disputed the draft EIR's contention that the facility will not increase public safety costs.
Called to testify as the last speaker at the end of a roughly two-hour Port of LB conducted public meeting on the document, LB Deputy Chief of Police Tim Jackman (who was present throughout the proceeding) said the Port document's "Reliability and Safety" section includes "a number of data sources that appear questionable, particularly the statistics used to generate probability of terrorist attack" and "some of the information is contradictory, making it difficult to fully understand how the conclusion was reached that the project will not affect public safety."
Deputy Chief Jackman added that although the draft EIR indicates the LNG-project applicant ("Sound Energy Solutions," a Mitsubishi/Conoco-related entity) has offered to fund all necessary security/emergency management equipment and personnel costs on state and local agencies as a result of the project, the "size, scope frequency of use puts an unknown drain on police resources, unknown in part because there's not yet any basis for determining requirements on the police department. Mitigation is therefore unknown, as are the costs and potential impact to law enforcement and other public safety providers."
Deputy Chief Jackman said he wasn't speaking in favor or opposed to the project but simply commenting on the process...and indicated the City of Long Beach "will be responding in writing to address additional concerns" about the draft EIR.
LBReport.com posts a transcript [unofficial, prepared by us] of Deputy Chief Jackman's testimony and extended excerpts [likewise unofficial] of other salient testimony below.
5th district City Council candidate Ed Barwick and retired LB Mayor Eunice Sato (who represented WLB on the Council, now lives in ELB) both testified in support of the proposed LNG facility.
After saying he was "concerned about the differences between the Port's EIR and the California state report on the project's potential hazards, Mr. Barwick went on to say:
"[G]iven the EIR premise of an extremely remote possibility of a significant hazardous event extending beyond the project perimeter, I support this project." [Extended excerpts below.]
Retired Mayor Sato testified, "I do support the conclusion that the LNG import project is safe to build and operate and also will have a number of positive effects, such as cleaner air, jobs, tax revenues and increases in natural gas [supply for the economy]." [Extended excerpts below]
Following her testimony, Sound Energy Solutions CEO Tom Giles thanked Mayor Sato outside the auditorium. Mr. Giles told LBReport.com that Mayor Sato had attended some of the company's presentations to the community on the proposed LNG facility.
LBReport.com asked Mayor Sato if she'd read materials (publicly released but not part of the EIR proceeding) by the CA Public Utilities Commission (opposing siting the LNG facility in the Port of LB) and the CA Energy Commission (recommending a different mathematical standard to estimate radiant heat effects on people from an LNG fire). "Not as such," Mayor Sato said.
At its peak, roughly 100 persons attended the early evening meeting at ELB's Millikan High School.
As at previous meetings, speakers in support included members of building and trade industry unions.
Several speakers in opposition disputed the risk assessment prepared by a Port-retained firm and attached to the Port-prepared draft EIR. One speaker said the draft EIR understated risk by proffering a mathematical figure based on accidents limited to the LNG industry instead of using accidents common in the oil and gas industry as a whole. Another speaker said "all the good that [the LNG project] would bring to the city can be negated very quickly if there is a catastrophic failure of one of these tanks..."
LB resident Gail Frommer (a Professor of Law at OC's Whittier Law School) said that in her opinion the LNG proposal raises environmental justice issues...and argued against weighing safety in terms of whether the risk area extends one mile or three miles from the facility. Regardless of the distance, the risk merits rejection of the proposed project, she said.
Bry Myown of LB Citizens for Utility Reform, a formal intervenor in the FERC application process and on record in opposition to the project, noted she'd previously testified about "the lack of federal or port zoning standards for LNG, the lack of marine exclusion zones that would protect the surroundings from pool zones, the land-based exclusion zones that allow human beings off-site to sustain burns in twenty seconds and the failure to consider reciprocal hazards posed by the surroundings."
Ms. Myown said "[A]fter two and a half years, millions of dollars and an act of Congress, this application is being given less siting consideration than a liquor license would receive."
She said the project objectives in the EIS/EIR are the developer's objectives and not the City's objectives. "The developer has carefully made objectives that purport this project will accomplish things that no offshore project can and therefore that's the rationale for finding this the environmentally superior alternative," terminology Ms. Myown called misleading.
"Storing gas sounds as if we would be saving it for a winter day...But this project will not save gas; it will turn it over just as rapidly as an offshore project will, which is to say every time a new tanker arrives." Ms. Myown said "[p]roducing vehicle fuel is something anyone with access to natural gas can do."
A final LNG EIR public hearing will take place tonight (Dec. 1) at WLB's Cabrillo High School, 2001 Santa Fe Ave.
Extended excerpts of salient testimony from the Nov. 30 hearing follow below [not necessarily in presentation order]:
LB Deputy Police Chief Tim Jackman [testimony was invited last]: ...I'm here tonight to comment on the draft EIS/EIR...I am the Police Department's senior official responsible for the LNG project evaluation, and in that regard I'd like to make clear that I'm not either in favor of the project nor am I opposed, I am simply commenting on the process.
My comments will be relatively short. However, the city will be responding in writing to address additional concerns, only a few of which I will address tonight.
...Tonight, I would like to specifically address my remarks to section 4.11, "Reliability and Safety." Frankly, it's tough to follow [the] roughly sixty pages of data. Inside, the sixty pages there are a number of data sources that appear questionable, particularly the statistics used to generate probability of terrorist attack.
Also, some of the information is contradictory, making it difficult to fully understand how the conclusion was reached that the project will not affect public safety.
While I understand the Quest study only applies to the CEQA or EIR [Port of LB] portion of the study, I am curious how the EIR bases its conclusion that there's not a significant impact on public safety.
For example, the draft [EIR] states, quote, that "none of the potential LNG release scenarios would result in substantial increase in the potential for incidents that would cause serious injury or death to members of the public" end quote. However, there does not appear to be sufficient justification in the draft to support that conclusion.
There is also no clearly articulated threat identified. Some scenarios are briefly identified but none appear to have been more than perfunctorily examined and then discarded as implausible.
The identification of threat assessment, of consequences, and threat mitigation is not clear. This is a key issue for local public safety and emergency management because it can cause serious and significant impact on public safety. It may also dramatically affect local public safety resources.
For both accidents and intentional events, charts are used in the draft that are confusing. The basis for many of the conclusions in the draft appear to be adopted from Los Angeles County Fire Department, a document that police department staff was not able to locate.
Also many of the mathematical models appear to be seriously flawed. As a rudimentary sensitivity analysis, which has not been done in the draft, shows a sensitivity to a mere shift in population of only 101 people. For example, adding a mere 101 people to the terrorism threat probability calculation results in a ten times greater likelihood of terrorist attack according to the formula. Such a degree of sensitivity is inappropriate to base a conclusion that the public safety is not affected.
There is further contradictory information that makes it difficult to determine the basis of the conclusion in [section] 4.11.
FERC makes notes throughout section 4.11 when they appear to disagree with the conclusions reached by the Port or the Quest study. However they do not indicate if they agree with the Quest study or not, or if they use the calculations of probability that Quest uses. In the absence of a clear basis for that conclusion, I would request that FERC make clear in its opinion on the Quest numbers and whether or not they're basing their conclusion on the same data.
One particular statement made by FERC is not clear. Quote, "The FERC staff does not agree with analyzing worst-case health consequences [inaudible] low probability events without accounting for the beneficial effect of [inaudible] mitigation measures as a part of the risk management process. As a result, many of the worst case health consequences calculated in the hazards analysis by Quest are not considered critical events by the FERC" end quote. I don't know what that means. I also don't know from reading 4.11 what risk-management process was undertaken to prevent or mitigate the threats spoken of in the draft. My staff and I on first reading came to opposite conclusions. It is a statement that needs clarification in the conclusion.
And I'm almost through. There are clear examples of threat evaluation tools that are available. The American Petroleum Institute has guidelines for threat analysis. Richard Clark in a study for the Attorney General of Rhode Island uses a different but effective methodology. Both tools were used to identify threats in the draft. Quest in their study mentions five threats. Are those the only threats? Have the threats been properly evaluated? These were all areas that I'd like to see discussed in the conclusion as to why or why not they were used in the process of threat evaluation in the conclusion.
Lastly, the draft states that the applicant SES is, quote, "committed to coordinate with local emergency providers and fund all project-specific security emergency management costs and that would ensure that the project will not substantially reduce the level of fire and police services" unquote. While the SES offer is appreciated, sincerely appreciated, there is not yet any basis for concluding that that would actually occur. Further, the size, scope and frequency of us...
Robert Kanter, Port of LB [interrupting]: Mr. Jackman, can I ask you to conclude your remarks, please.
Deputy Chief Jackman: Yes sir, I'll be about four sentences. Further, the size, scope frequency of use puts an unknown drain on police resources, unknown in part because there's not yet any basis for determining requirements on the police department. Mitigation is therefore unknown, as are the costs and potential impact to law enforcement and other public safety providers. Thank you.
5th district Council candidate Ed Barwick: I'm concerned about the differences between the Port's EIR and the California State Report on potential hazards of the proposed LNG. Hopefully the final EIR will address these differences and make clear the realistic prospects of a significant hazardous event will be.
If the Port's EIR is correct, then we can be assured that there is minimal risk to people outside the confines of the project perimeter.
On the positive side, I believe we can expect significant benefit from this project. The project will generate some short-term construction jobs and a smaller number of permanent positions. More importantly, this project will bring a supply of clean burning natural gas into the southland...As we all know, the demand for fuel continues to increase and we need to ensure that we provide an environmentally clean fuel to reduce pollutants into the atmosphere.
Therefore, given the EIR premise of an extremely remote possibility of a significant hazardous event extending beyond the project perimeter, I support this project.
Retired Mayor Eunice Sato: [transcript in part from remarks prepared for delivery]...My major concern, and I believe of most rational people, is about public safety. One fear is that of a major earthquake.
The draft EIR states that the on-shore tank with withstand an earthquake of up to [magnitude] 9.0. I question if there ever has been an earthquake of that magnitude anywhere in the U.S. There has not been any. The SES LNG project is deemed safe as far as earthquakes are concerned, and I am satisfied with that finding.
The other reason for concern, in regards to safety, is that of the potential or probability of the project becoming a target of terrorists. The draft EIR has presented in quite detail probable situations for the likelihood of terrorists being successful in an attack on the LNG facilities. Their report states that the probability of success is seven in one million in a year's time. That is very slim, minute -- or nil -- would anyone bet on anything with those chances of success?
Besides, I believe the terrorists would focus on areas such as airports, shopping malls, or large gatherings where hundreds or thousands of people are congregated and a mobile scene where prevention of an attack could be very difficult.
I am convinced by the EIR study, that the LNG project is safe. And although air quality is not addressed by the draft EIR there is no doubt in my mind that with the availability of clean fuel from LNG rather than the diesel fuel used by all kinds and sizes of vehicles of transportation, especially large rigs in the port area, the air we breathe will be very noticeably cleaner and healthier.
My position is: I do support the conclusion that the LNG import project is safe to build and operate and also will have a number of positive effects, such as cleaner air, jobs, tax revenues and increases in natural gas [supply for the economy].
Owen Bailey, Sierra Club rep: ...There's no credible evidence that California needs this gas. The fact is that our state's use of natural gas is down from its peak in 2002. The EIR needs to address realistic alternatives to the development of LNG, realistic alternatives. Our allies at the Environmental Defense Center in Santa Barbara have demonstrated quite convincingly that through simple conservation and efficiency for existing power plants, we can free up more than twice the energy from any LNG terminal, and that doesn't begin to look at renewable resources for which southern California is so perfectly suited. If the State of California wants to truly explore our state's energy needs, we need a series of evidentiary hearings where all sides testify under oath...If at the conclusion...of evidentiary hearings it is determined that there is a need for LNG, then the state must be involved in an apples to apples comparison of all the proposed LNG project to ensure that the people at greatest risk in these communities get the safest, cleanest, best project, not just the fastest moving or the best lobbied...
...Natural gas vehicles can be help [in air quality] but we need no LNG terminal to bring this about. The additional pollution created by the long-idling ship and the facility itself more than overcomes the benefit of these vehicles...