Marine Mammal Harm OK’d at Neptune Facility

     WASHINGTON (CN) – The Neptune Deepwater Port liquid natural gas facility in Massachusetts Bay may continue to harass marine mammals incidental to its construction and operation, according to the National Marine Fisheries Services.

     The facility, about 22 miles northeast of Boston, has the capacity to transfer 400 million cubic feet of natural gas from “regasification vessels” designed to transport and offload natural gas on the open seas.
     The agency is authorizing “level B” harassment of 14 species of marine mammals including right whales, humpback whales, harbor seals and dolphins.
     Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, “level B harassment is activity that “has the potential to disturb a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild by causing disruption of behavioral patterns, including, but not limited to, migration, breathing, nursing, breeding, feeding, or sheltering.”
     The agency said that the most likely disturbance marine mammals will face at the Neptune facility is the noise of underwater thrusters used by regasification vessels to maneuver during docking operations.
     The Neptune Deepwater Port facility is owned by GDF SUEZ Energy North America and is the first deepwater liquid natural gas facility to use regasification vessels designed with tanks that minimize sloshing of natural gas during offloading and special thrusters to maintain the vessel’s position relative to a pipeline buoy, thus allowing the vessels to avoid being tied to a rigid anchor.

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