WASHINGTON (CN) – Neptune LNG, LLC plans to begin limited operation of its Neptune Deepwater Port, and has requested authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service because operation may harm marine mammals.
The agency plans to allow the operation to begin.
The Massachusetts Bay port facility will allow regasification of liquefied natural gas that will be off loaded from shuttle and regassification vessels. Neptune will be able to moor two vessels with a capacity of approximately 140,000 cubic meters. The vessels will temporarily moor at the port by means of a submerged unloading buoy system.
Two separate buoys will allow natural gas to be delivered in a continuous flow by having a brief overlap between arriving and departing vessels. The annual average throughput capacity of the port is expected to be around 500 million standard cubic feet of natural gas per day.
The sea mammals affected by port activities would be the North Atlantic right whale and the long-finned pilot whale; the humpback, fin, sei, and minke whales; the harbor porpoise; the common, Risso’s, bottlenose and Atlantic white-sided dolphins; and the harbor seal. Neptune already received authorization regarding harming killer whales and gray seals.
The harm mentioned would be harassment mainly due to noise and ship traffic, which has the potential to disrupt behavioral patterns such as migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding or sheltering.
The sounds that may disturb the marine mammals include the noise of thrusters maneuvering shuttles and regasification vessels while docking and undocking, and while keeping vessels pointed into waves or weather so they do not rock. Maintenance vessels also would use thrusters, if a major rupture occurs in the pipelines that serve the terminal. The sounds may reach 120 decibels up to 1 mile from the port.
Depending on how close a marine mammal is to the facility, the potential effects of sound from the Neptune Port might include building mammal tolerance to human activity; masking of natural sounds, such as predators; behavioral disturbance; and, possibly, temporary or permanent hearing impairment, according to the proposed rule.
Neptune LNG, LLC is owned by SUEZ Energy North America, Inc. a Houston based energy conglomerate that operates power, cogeneration, steam and chilled water facilities generating over 5,500 MW of electricity. SUEZ also owns another liquefied natural gas facility in Everet, Massachusetts.
The agency has requested public input on the Neptune application.