Friday, January 30, 2009

Fundy's Bayside Quarry Threatens Marine Life and Community


I remember I was sitting with my wife; first-born, Kim; and our friend Eric McCartney in a barren walk-up apartment on the island of Montreal when the Cuban Missile Crisis was developing. We watched President Kennedy's announcement and the developing drama on our little black and white TV.

As we were drawn into the enormity of a situation that we shared with everyone else in the world, we considered our options if something happened. We would be trapped with 3 million other people on an island that was undoubtedly a target for a nuclear ICBM. In no time at all, we would have no food, no money, and only a tiny old Volkswagen bug that would be no competition for the flood of vehicles and people leaving on the limited capacity bridges, assuming gas was available.

Since there were no pressing obligations at McGill University where I was a student and lab instructor, we decided to go home to Charlotte County before the crisis was fully developed. The reasons were obvious: it was exceedingly unlikely that anything but an errant missile would find us and, secondly, as I remember saying, "We won't have to worry about starving." So off we went to St. Stephen , packed like sardines into our little VW.

While we were subsequently ridiculed for our move, history shows that it was the right decision.

The point of this little personal story was that we knew that the richness of the Quoddy Region would sustain us, winter and summer. Today, it is a totally different story, assuming our new generation even knew how to harvest the wealth at our doorstep and our gun-totting wardens would allow us to harvest anything without the appropriate and costly licence. And, of course, we now have a nuclear power plant that is a magent for missiles and terorists.

When we finally came home for good in the 1960's, our precious resources had been hit hard by coastal developments particularly the mill in Woodland where an operation there was allowed , by our 3 levels of government, to dump black liquor directly into the river, killing a vital fishery in the St. Croix River Estuary and western Passamaquoddy Bay that I have valued at $10 - $20 million annually in today's dollars.

There was a new ditty then in response to the horrific smell of the river and the bubbling mudflats. "St. Andrews-by-the-Sea, St. Stephen-by-the-smell." It's not quite so applicable in recent years and we have seen encouraging signs that our marine resources could rebuild, but now a new threats are looming.

Some years ago, Jamer Materials was allowed to mine aggregate at the Bayside Port under the expressed understanding that this was to increase laydown area for the Bayside Port. None of this has occurred and the company has now announced its quarry expansion plans for a vast area across the main highway (highway 127) leading into St. Andrews around (literally) the Simpson Hill area. This is in the Chamcook watershed, the water source for the Town of St. Andrews, Atlantic Salmon Federation, Biological Station, Huntsman Marine Science Centre and other vital operations and communities.

But, they claim, all drainage will be directed back across the highway to the existing quarry site. Well, we now have underwater surveys and aerial photos that show sediments from the existing quarry operations have destroyed important scallop, lobster, and fish habitat directly offshore from the site. Expansion will only exacerbate this problem.

This is in direct contravention of Canada's Oceans Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. It's long past the time when Environment Canada and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans should step in.

Write or email your ministers of fisheries and environment about this problem today. While you're at it, let MP Greg Thompson know that you appreciate his efforts in fighting LNG and the Quarry on behalf of his constituents.

Times are tough and we will need all of our natural resources to survive future challenges. Unless we start protecting our own assets, they will be gone and us with them.

That's my opinion anyway.

Art

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sovereignty issues complicate Coast Guard's LNG endorsement

The Quoddy Tides
Eastport, Maine

2009 Jan 23

by Edward French

While the U.S. Coast Guard has issued a letter of recommendation on the suitability of the waterway that liquefied natural gas (LNG) ships would travel to the proposed Downeast LNG facility in Robbinston, the Waterway Suitability Report prepared by the U.S. Coast Guard Captain of the Port Sector Northern New England does outline areas of concern, particularly regarding the roles of the Canadian government and the Passamaquoddy Tribe.

In the section titled, "International and Sovereignty Considerations," the report states that the Canadian government considers all of Head Harbour Passage to be internal waters of Canada and therefore the international right of innocent passage does not apply. The U.S. government's position is that vessels headed to or leaving from U.S. ports on the waters of Passamaquoddy Bay have the right of innocent passage under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). However, because the U.S. is not a party to the convention, since the U.S. Senate has not yet provided necessary approval, "the United States is not subject to, nor can the U.S. make use of, the compulsory dispute settlement provisions of UNCLOS," the report notes.

Following an initial participation in technical discussions with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Canadian government has curtailed further participation in the review process for the Downeast LNG facility. The report states, "The eventual involvement and cooperation of Canada's maritime, environmental and public safety authorities are paramount to ensure the safety and security of the waterway."

The report also examined the rights and concerns of the Passamaquoddy Tribe and issues relating to sovereignty. In response to the Coast Guard's request for information regarding Passamaquoddy sovereignty issues, Downeast LNG submitted a legal brief rebuffing the tribe's claims, stating, "The Passamaquoddy tribal fishermen lack sovereignty or any other special fishing or sustenance rights over the waters through which LNG carriers will transit to and from the Downeast LNG facility."

"The intricacy of, and overall sensitivity to the sovereignty issues within the region have complicated" the review process, the report states. Of significant concern would be the Captain of the Port's "jurisdictional authority to enforce risk reduction measures, such as safety/security zone enforcement, and/or how to quantify environmental risks and related potential impacts to hallowed hunting and fishing grounds and sacred ceremonial sites, if in fact Passamaquoddy sovereign rights prevail."

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fundy Opinion - A Plea for a New Democratic Process Based on Old Democratic Standards

Judy Gibson is one whose soul truly lives in the beauty of the Quoddy Region. Her eloquent plea for a rethinking of our democratic process is highly relevant in the current transitional mood in the United States. Her plea should not go unheeded. We clearly have one last chance to get this right or we may, like our right whale neighbours and other species that have already become extinct, wither and pass from this world. We thank Judy for this timely email and guest post which is highly pertinent as Quoddy citizens struggle with increasing challenges and threats. Art

Dear Tim, Art, et al. in the BPC and Quoddy Group,

I deeply regret not being on the spot so that I could be more useful as a voice, and as a researcher, against the proposed industrialization of our magnificent and historic St. Croix and Passamaquoddy Bay region.

If our much-vaunted Canadian democracy really existed:

(a) Area residents would be part of the planning process of any proposed change to any portion of their communities.
(b) Municipal councils and community groups would be invited to participate before any proposals are made concerning their communities. This should be long before any formal proposal is articulated and presented to provincial/state and/or federal governments.
(c) Governments should facilitate the research process by providing free and immediate access to information deemed necessary for area residents and property stakeholders (such as home owners and business owners in a given area) to respond to proposals,
(d) Sufficient funds for research and communications should be provided by (a) branch(es) of government relevant to a proposed project (e.g. Quarries and LNG, by the Dept. of Natural Resources, the Dept. of the Environment, the Department of Wildife, the Department of the Interior, etc. plus the Treasury Board).
(e) The time to prepare responses to all proposals which will impact upon a given area economically, environmentally, and/or socially, should be fully adequate to enable respondents to make their wishes known to proponents, politicians, and the public at large.
(f) Media should guarantee equal coverage in space, time, and prominence, to both sides of any proposal. For example, a full-page advertisement in a newspaper, paid for by the proponents of a proposed project, should be balanced by an ad of the same size, by community residents and/or groups opposing the project.
(g) Government should examine each proposal based not just upon anticipated, or promised, economic benefits such as new jobs and higher tax revenues, but should balance the relative merits of any proposal by examining probable negative consequences on other occupations and property values, as well as changes in local economies which are foreseen to be negative.
(h) The constitutionally-guaranteed equality of citizens should be upheld, so that no investment from outside an area should be given more power than any organization or group of citizens living in that area. (Therefore, groups such as the Quoddy Group, the Bayside Preservation Council, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Town Council of St. Andrews, the elected representatives in the provincial and federal governments, the NB Tourist Association, the residents and property owners and businesses of each of the area communities, health care professionals, and others, should be considered to be representative of their communities, if each group represents the majority of individuals in any one group.) Suppose that adult residents of St. Andrews number 2000--if 1350 of them are against these proposals, the majority voice should speak for the town; and this should be the case for all similar groups.
(i) Employment created which causes pollution of land, water, and/or air, and damage to ecosystems (people, animals, and plants) and which would tend to diminish the quality of life, in respect to health, environment, and local governance, and lower property values, should be given low or no value whenever such 'employment schemes' are proposed, no matter whether the proponent(s) is/are local residents or not.

Can we not approach the new US President and ask for the support of his administration in really bringing about change to our very badly degraded democracies?

Good luck to all of you...individuals and groups. You are in my thoughts.

Please, if you find any or all of this helpful to your cause, use it.

Judy Gibson

Saturday, January 24, 2009

FUNDY OPINION - St. Andrews citizens will be burning

By Art MacKAY

The US Coast Guard's recently released Waterway Suitability Report, prepared for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Downeast LNG application, will have the residents of New Brunswick's premier resort area burning again.

When, on the heels of Quoddy Bay LLC's earlier proposal at Sipayik, Downeast LNG first introduced their plan to construct an LNG terminal and storage facility directly across the St.Croix River from St. Andrews at Robbinston, Me., the citizens of that resort town and the greater Quoddy Region rose as one to denounce these developments and made their position clear with submissions to FERC and government officials in both Canada and the United States. Impressive, passionate, packed public meetings and protests were held.

Subsequently, Canadian opponents to the LNG plans have been supported at every political level in Canada. Conservative Prime Minister Harper and local Member of Parliament Greg Thompson have publicly, and in closed session with President George W. Bush, expressed their firm position that tankers will not be allowed through Head Harbour Passage, the essential waterway that they consider to be internal Canadian waters and, in the long term, too valuable and hazardous a waterway to be used by super tankers. This was a similar position to that taken about 30 years ago when the Pittston Company of Greenwich, Conn., applied to turn Eastport and Moose Island into a gigantic oil refinery and tank farm, threatening fishing, tourism, marine life, and whales including the endangered north Atlantic right whale.

In previous responses to Quoddy Bay LLC, the U.S.Coast Guard stated that the participation of the Canadian government was paramount to their release of a similar report for Quoddy Bay LLC and it [participation] was withheld. This is not the case with the Downeast LNG proposal. In this case, while the report requires Canadian consultation by Downeast LNG, the USCC has chosen to assess Canadian waters without the approval of Canada, an interesting move that causes great concern in a contest that, more and more, seems to revolve around testing Canadian sovereignty and, not incidentally, Canadian resolve.

IN SPITE OF THE WEAK OUTER LINE in the accompanying chart taken from the USCC Waterway Suitability Study, St. Andrews citizens can now see that they are within the hazard zone for this development. A similar study for Calais LNG will, undoubtedly, duplicate this scenario, but will move Zone 3 more deeply into the town as tankers move up the St.Croix River.

The USCC defines these zones as:

  • Zone 1 — 500-metre radius with resultant fire and severe thermal radiation hazards. By definition these are areas in which LNG shipments occur in relatively narrow harbours or channels, or ships pass under major bridges or over tunnels, or come in within 500 metres of major infrastructure such as military installations, commercial/business centers, or national icons.
  • Zone 2 — from 500 to 1,600 metres with less severe thermal radiation hazards to public safety and property. These are areas of broader channel widths, larger open harbors, or over 500 metres from major critical infrastructure elements.
  • Zone 3 — from 1,600 to 3,500 metres with potential pockets of flammable vapor. These are areas where LNG traffic and deliveries occur approximately 1.6 kilometres from major infrastructure or in large bays or open water. The thermal radiation risks to public safety and property are significantly reduced.

    While thermal risks may be reduced with distance, MIT Professor Emeritus James Fay, points out that the actual zone of impact, the area where fires are ignited and people suffer serious burns, may be greater than the distance used in the report. He states that, "for all credible spills, including terrorist attacks on the storage tank and LNG tanker, the danger zone for humans extends almost four miles from the terminal site" or about 2.5 kilometres, and life and property will be lost from so-called collateral impacts. This greater distance envelopes all of St. Andrews and the ability of fire departments may be non-existent since their facilities are within the real zone of impact and these professionals may well be immobilized by an event itself. The nearest assistance would be St.Stephen and St.George.

    As for bringing tankers through Head Harbour Passage, this is a red herring. Of course it can be done. It's risk analysis and the real question is for how long will it take to have an accident and at what cost? Since LNG tankers can only enter and leave during the day, at slack tide (if that truly exists in some areas along the route), when the visibility is more than two miles, and the wind is less than 25 mph, then the number of days when access is available will be severely limited.

    In fact, these data are available and it is a wonder that they have not been required for the USCC report and company submissions to FERC. Imagine the financial impacts to Downeast LNG and its leader Dean Girdis during those delightful years like the one when fog held to the West Isles for more than 30 days and 30 nights. At $100,000 a day, layovers add up! Passamaquoddy Bay and key fishing areas of Campobello Island could well see numerous gigantic tankers stacked up waiting to move.

    Forget the hazardous passage and the Old Sow whirlpool, layovers will be substantial and local boats will be unable to pursue fishing, whale watching, and recreational activities during passage and while at anchor or at the terminal. The eco-economy of Quoddy will be effectively shut down. Since the arrival of tankers is "secret" due to fears of terrorism, local operators will have little time to respond and will be forced to the side by armed gunboats, as they are in Boston Harbour. What a delightful vision.

    Unless the new administration in the United States recognizes the folly of agitating their neighbours, best friends, and largest trading partner, the first LNG explosion may be coming soon, much sooner, than anticipated by the LNG promoters. A once interesting and functional "international community" that drew upon the abundant natural resources of this unique Quoddy ecosystem, has been split asunder by these LNG development proposals.

    In spite of the plethora of carpetbaggers who have wandered through Charlotte and Washington counties, some folks have never stopped looking for the knight on a white steed; the saviour who will bring economic salvation to an area of perceived poverty. The sad truth is that the wealth required to provide a truly sustainable future for all of the citizens of Quoddy has always been here for those with eyes to see.

    They will forget their old laws; they will barter their country for baubels. Then will disease eat the life from their blood. (Hanisse'ono. The Evil One from Iroquois legend).

    Art MacKay is a biologist, writer, and artist with over 40 years professional experience in the Bay of Fundy and northern Gulf of Maine. He is the author of many reports and articles about these ecosystems.

  • Wednesday, January 21, 2009

    Calais LNG Submission Insults Canadian and American Hearing Contributors Alike

    I just received the "Calais LNG Project Company LLC Submits Supplemental Responses to Comments Filed During The Pre-filing Scoping Period under Docket No. PF08-24-000". In it they give their responses to all of us who submitted concerns to FERC during the "pre-filing Scoping Period". I, for one, am insulted.

    Frankly, I am not sure what disturbs me more, their use of their own words and those of their paid consultants repeated over and over as proof of their position; a transparent ploy used effectively by charlatans to refute the legitimate and knowledgeable concerns and objections of dozens of opponents who have, quite frankly, more expertise and professional experience in the Quoddy Region then any of their so-called paid-for professionals.

    Calais LNG's answers are, quite frankly. simplistic, often uninformed, and generally inadequate; showing a lack of understanding about the international Quoddy community, the ecosystem here and our centuries old "eco-economy". The continual quoting of a "scientific study" that purports to allay concerns about aesthetic impacts is totally unbelievable and insulting to those folks who truly understand the value of “beautiful Quoddy”. Since thousands spent real cash to come here and bask in this beauty, you can easily put a value to this beauty, but you cannot scientifically assess it, because science does not “sink” to such base levels.

    If the amateurish and insulting Calais LNG proposal is accepted by FERC, then we are diminished as individuals, a society, and as citizens of our respective countries. But, make no mistake, like you, we Canadian have our limits and we will protect OUR culture and OUR homeland. We have had decades of air and water pollution issued from American soil that has, in the past, ruined our health, our river and our fisheries. We continually fight against inappropriate American developments that have threatened our existence and way of life for decade now and, today, we battle three LNG proposals and the selfish development of American-controlled Jamer Materials, a company that wishes to mine aggregate in this vital watershed that provides for all of us who live and work in the St. Andrews Peninsula.

    Enough! It's time for this to all come to a halt. I pray that your new President has the vision to work with your friends and neighbours in a professional and co-operative manner and that conscience reasserts itself throughout America. If that happens you may live down the reputation that your heavy-handed approaches have created at home and around the world. I pray for you.

    If you made a submission to FERC relative to the Calais LNG proposal you really owe it to yourself to see how they treated your concerns.

    Go to: http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/OpenNat.asp?fileID=11908873

    That's my opinion tonight! What's yours?.

    Art

    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    Passamaquoddy LNG Proposals Test Canadian Sovereignty

    Well it appears that the carpetbaggers are having one last assault on Canadian Sovereignty by pushing the insane development of LNG terminals in Passamaquoddy Bay in direct conflict with the clear message that Canada will NOT approve passage of tankers through Canadian internal waters at Head Harbour Passage. But "the beat goes on" and intensifies as the US Coast Guard approves passage through the US portion of Passamaquoddy Bay; a useless approval in the absence of access to Canadian waters on this border.

    Well the battle will get hotter now as we again reiterate the ecological, financial, and social importance of the Quoddy region and gird our loins for more legal contests from a Canadian perspective. Unfortunately the battle front broadens as the Bayside Quarry (controlled by another American company!) announces its expansion into the municipal water supply of Chamcook Lake watershed and the Aquaculture industry designates service beaches throughout the area; some of which have important marine habitat. If you are joining this battle, you can inform yourself by reviewing the various submissions to FERC as linked below courtesy of the Save Passamaquoddy Bay USA's webmaster Bob Godfrey.

    More will surely follow and we will be posting here and at our blogs:

    groups.google.com/group/quoddy
    http://fundytides.blogspot.com
    http://fundywhale.blogspot.com
    http://ilovequoddywild.blogspot.com

    Make sure you tell your friends to subscribe at the site that serves their needs best. This is the time to stay informed and participate!

    Complete FERC filings for Tidewalker Associates

    An LNG project (not yet in prefiling) that may impact those in Passamaquoddy Bay, and that is also proposing tidal dam projects in Cutler and Eastport/Pleasant Point/Perry that are already in the FERC process: Complete FERC filings for Tidewalker Associates are located at:[link]... more »
    By Art - 9:02pm - 1 new of 1 message

    Complete FERC filings for Quoddy Bay LLC

    Complete FERC filings for Quoddy Bay LLC are located at: [link]
    By Art - 9:00pm - 1 new of 1 message

    Complete FERC filings for Downeast LNG

    Complete filings for Downeast LNG are located at: [link]
    By Art - 8:59pm - 1 new of 1 message

    Complete FERC filings for Calais LNG

    The complete filings for Calais LNG can be accessed at: [link]
    By Art - 8:57pm - 1 new of 1 message

    Original US Coast Guard Press Release Link

    [link]
    By Art - 8:43pm - 1 new of 1 message

    Save Passamaquoddy Bay Responds to USCG Report

    Study of the entire 100 page USCG's Waterway Suitability Assessment is necessary to fully comprehend the long list of conditions and requirements that have been set for possible LNG transit of Passamaquoddy Bay. The devil is in the details of this Washington created document with huge hurdles for the proposed developer. This is... more »
    By Art - 8:41pm - 1 new of 1 message

    Downeast LNG Responds to Coast Guard Determination

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE January 7, 2009 U.S. COAST GUARD ISSUES “SUITABLE” WATERWAY DETERMINATION FOR DOWNEAST LNG The decision represents a major step forward in the federal approval process. ROBBINSTON, Maine – Dean Girdis, president and founder of Downeast LNG, said today that he was very pleased that the U.S. Coast Guard has... more »
    By Art - 8:39pm - 1 new of 1 message

    Coast Guard issues letter of recommendation, waterway suitability report to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

    DATE: January 07, 2009 15:47:02 EST Document Number: 414 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Office of Public Affairs U.S. Coast Guard DHS USCG Banner News Release ... Contact: Lt. Cmdr. Chris O'Neil 202-372-4635 Coast Guard issues letter of recommendation, waterway suitability report to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission... more »
    By Art - 8:38pm - 1 new of 1 message

    US Coast Guard Report Affirms Suitability of US portion of LNG Waterway?

    Word on the street is that USCG has released their 100-page Waterway Suitability Report required for the Downeast LNG application to FERC and that they have approved the US portion of the waterway for LNG transits. However, apparently there are many conditions that must be met, including cooperation from the Canadian Government and the USCG... more »
    By Art - 8:34pm - 1 new of 1 message

    Bay of Fundy Needs EIA's Before Aquaculture Beaches are Designated

    I've had several calls and emails about the announcement that the NB Department of Natural Resources will be creating "aquaculture beach sites" where the industry can haul their cages, boats, barges, and other infrastructure ashore to repair and maintain them. Having started the very first commercial aquaculture sites at Deer Island and Eastport... more »
    By Art MacKay - 8:05am - 1 message

    Bay of Fundy Needs EIA's Before Aquaculture Beaches are Designated

    I've had several calls and emails about the announcement that the NB Department of Natural Resources will be creating "aquaculture beach sites" where the industry can haul their cages, boats, barges, and other infrastructure ashore to repair and maintain them. Having started the very first commercial aquaculture sites at Deer Island and Eastport and having been surveying the impact of the industry on the Quoddy ecosystem for almost 30 years, it is certain that these sites will have impacts where they are established and, undoubtedly, will be eye-sores. While the provided map is less than useful, I have been given the names of a couple of these beaches that have unique and important populations of marine invertebrates and have been traditional community beaches for decades and decades.

    The timing on this makes it appear that Nature Resources has designed the notice to fast-track the result without proper consideration and public input. While we give lipservice to the value of Quoddy and fight unsuitable development like Pittston, LNG, coastal quarries, municipal pollution and all of those developments that threaten the important and financially valuable Quoddy ecosystem, certain existing government departments seem to be willing to ignore our own regulations and laws. Also we are spending thousands on developing a marine planning approach under Sue Farhquarson`s able leadership. Unfortunately this is not `planning` where the needs of all resource users are taken into account, compromises are made, and the best solutions are sought.

    Assigning beaches without public consultation is a travesty. In fact, the delicate nature of some of these beaches screams for Environmental Impact Assessments. Again, no one argues against the need ... it is the arbitrary selection of location and lack of public consultation that rankles.

    Come on folks, let's do it right!

    At the moment, that's my opinion. What`s yours.

    Thursday, January 1, 2009

    Stevens Lampoons Quarry Offer

    Original cartoon at fundytides.blogspot.com

    Cartoonist Dave Stevens lampoons Jamar Materials Ltd proposed quarry expansion around (literally) Simpson's Hill Recreational Area (see previous post).

    (Want to use this cartoon in your publication? Send your request to "fundytides at gmail.com" and we will forward a high resolution version. No payment is required, but those who wish to contribute to the quarry battle can get in touch through this blog.)

    Environment Jamer Materials Ltd. and town both plan meetings next month to state their case

    MARY-ELLEN SAUNDERS, TELEGRAPH-JOURNAL

    BAYSIDE - Community leaders in Bayside and St. Andrews say they will stop at nothing to prevent Jamer Materials Ltd. from extending its quarry operation to the east side of Highway 127.
    Click to Enlarge
    Tim Foulkes photo
    An aerial view of the Jamer Materials Ltd. quarry operation in Bayside in October. The company has applied to the province for permission to expand its operation beyond the road behind the quarry to the land on the other side of the road.

    "I didn't sleep last night because I was thinking about this and the future of Bayside with a great big hole in it," Gary James, chairman of the Bayside Local Service District Committee, said.

    "If the provincial government allows this to go across the road, all they care about is money, they don't care about environment, the Town of St. Andrews' watershed or what the people think."

    St. Andrews Mayor John Craig said if the quarry was to cross to the east of Highway 127 it would be in the area of the Chamcook Lake watershed, which supplies the town with its drinking water.

    "We knew they wanted to expand and we are going to do everything we can to make sure they don't," Craig said.

    "They are going to have a fight on their hands because we aren't going to roll over and let a company from New Jersey come and destroy our landscape, our water supply and our town because they want to take granite. They have destroyed enough and it's time for them to pack it up and leave."

    Complete Article