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Pipeline Would Cut Fla. County's Sand Source - Officials
by Sara Kennedy    The Bradenton Herald, Fla.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
A proposed natural gas pipeline would bisect an underwater area of the gulf where Manatee County mines sand for beach renourishment and would hike costs for the program by $50 million, officials said Tuesday.

"When we're looking at a $50 million impact, over the life of our project, I do not see how Manatee County can have a viable beach renourishment program in the future," said Charlie Hunsicker, county director of conservation lands management.

He was addressing a public meeting at the Manatee Convention Center focusing on the environmental impact of the Port Dolphin Liquefied Natural Gas Deepwater Port and a 42-mile underwater pipeline linking it to Port Manatee.

Hunsicker predicted "irreparable harm" to the economic viability of the program, which fortifies critically eroded beaches with millions of cubic yards of white sand and is paid for with tourist tax dollars.

His comments were seconded by Juan Florensa, public works director for the Town of Longboat Key, who estimated its additional costs at $4 million if the pipeline is built along the proposed route.

Florensa said the town commission is "very concerned about the impact of this pipeline on their sand resources," but noted it had no desire to kill or cripple the project. Rather, the commission wants a different route, he said.

Beau Suthard, the county's marine geologist, said the pipeline would need a "safety buffer" of between 1,000 and 3,000 feet on either side that would render the whole area unsuitable as a source of beach sand. Locating new sources of sand and hauling it a longer distance would essentially double the cost, he said.

Port Dolphin Energy LLC, a subsidiary of Hoegh LNG AS of Oslo, Norway, is proposing the $1 billion natural gas terminal.

Plans call for a natural gas terminal to be built in the gulf, 28 miles southwest of Tampa Bay. It would service specially designed ships carrying supercooled, liquefied natural gas. The gas would be converted to vapor by heating and sent through the pipeline to shore.

County officials said they hoped the company would consider a route near an existing pipeline corridor that does not interfere with its beach renourishment program.

But Port Dolphin Project Director Ragnar Wisloff said after the meeting: "I think we'll stay with the route for the time being," arguing that much time and care had gone into its selection.

He called it the "best possible route."

Have a comment

Here's how to register your comment on the draft environmental impact statement on the Port Dolphin Liquefied Natural Gas Deepwater Port and a 42-mile underwater pipeline linking it to Port Manatee.

MAIL:

Docket Management Facility

U.S. Department of Transportation

West Building, Ground Floor, Room W12-140

1200 New Jersey Ave., S.E.

Washington D.C. 20590

FAX: (202) 493-2251

INTERNET: www.regulations.gov

--The public comment period closes June 2.

Copyright (c) 2008, The Bradenton Herald, Fla. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.