Thursday, June 21, 2007

When the Tankers Arrive, the Bay Shuts Down

From Narragansett Bay, here's a glimpse of the future for recreational mariners (and probably commercial fishermen too) who use the eastern half of Long Island Sound: when a huge tanker -- carrying propane rather than the liquefied natural gas that will be going to the Broadwater terminal -- steamed up the bay the other evening, the Coast Guard essentially shut down the bay. The Jamestown Press reported:

"I called in the location and start of the races to Castle Hill Coast Guard station at 6 p.m. like I always do to let them know where we're racing," Dick Allphin, the race committee boat captain said. He said that the Coast Guard called back a couple of minutes later to warn him that a tanker would be coming through in an hour or so. Allphin said he thought they could finish before the tanker showed up, but the security boats were clearing the area a few minutes after 7 p.m. and "we were forced to abort the races."

"The security zone is two miles ahead of the tanker, one mile behind, and 1000-yards on either side," Allphin said. "With an area that large surrounding the tanker, there's no room in the bay for anyone else. Plus, they have to close down the Newport Bridge. It seems to me that they could schedule the tankers to come through the bay when it doesn't inconvenience so many people," he added.

Meanwhile in Washington, Long Island Congressman Tim Bishop tried unsuccessfully to get legislation passed that would have required the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to hold off on a Broadwater decision until more studies are completed, here.

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