A new fossil fuel project has emerged from the shadows and been approved with amazing speed and negligible public input: a liquified natural gas (LNG) export terminal along the Delaware River in Gibbstown (Gloucester County). On June 13, 2019, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) unanimously approved dredging for a deep-water seaport along the Delaware. This would be the first LNG export facility in the Delaware River basin.
Delaware River Partners (DRP), for New Fortress Energy, has applied for permits to build a second dock with two additional ship berths at the Gibbstown Logistics Center. Originally billed as a warehouse-type terminal with one dock and one berth, the Center was going to handle automobiles, dry and refrigerated cargo. Bulk liquids such as natural gas liquids (NGL) like propane and butane would be stored on site, utilizing the old cavern built by DuPont for the manufacture of explosives decades ago. NGL was to be exported by ship down the Delaware River to overseas ports. Since 2016, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and other organizations (NJ Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, and Environment New Jersey) opposed the project for environmental reasons and in opposition to the export of fracked natural gas liquids. The Gibbstown Logistics Center Dock 1 project was nonetheless approved.
The new proposal by DRP for the additional dock and berths is supposed to reflect New Fortress Energy’s revised market plans – to concentrate on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and NGL. The addition of LNG and the expansion of the hazardous bulk liquids shipping is a completely new ball game that requires a substantial body of specific environmental, health and safety analyses, increased regulatory scrutiny, and much greater public review and input. Additional approvals are required for LNG terminals and shipping. Here are some of the important facts about the “Dock 2” and LNG export terminal.
The Gibbstown Logistics Center Dock 2 LNG/LHG Export Terminal Proposal:
- Would provide navigational access, mooring, and loading equipment for two ships up to 173,400 cubic meters in capacity and would be located west (downriver) of the single multi-purpose dock that is nearly completed near Thompson’s Point. In 2017, when only 1 berth was planned, 1.5 million metric tonnes per year of LNG was expected to be exported, according to DRP application to the U.S. Coast Guard. The volume of LNG to be exported in current plans is unclear. In fact, most of the details about operations have not been publicly disclosed or approved yet by agencies.
- Would triple the number of berths that ships can use, greatly increasing overseas ship traffic. Twenty four “shipping events” of LNG and NGL are planned each year from Dock 2, in addition to the cargo ships using Dock 1.
- Would require dredging of an additional 45 acres of river, impacting water quality; fish, aquatic life, and wildlife, including threatened and endangered species; river vegetation; and other river uses.
- According to a DRP permit application, over 1,650 trucks trips each day would come and go from the Gibbstown Logistics Center. The total “daily trips” of all traffic is estimated at 8,450 to/from the DuPont Repauno site. The proposed Rt. 44 Bypass has not been approved and would not be built for 1 to 1 ½ years at best, meaning truck traffic will move on roads used by Gibbstown.
- Train traffic to Gibbstown Logistics Center would carry NGL and perhaps LNG, if LNG transport by rail cars were approved by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA). PHMSA is currently considering a proposal for a “Special Permit” for rail cars to carry LNG, being driven by an application by Energy Transfer Solutions, a subsidiary of New Fortress Energy. If approved, train traffic from Bradford County, PA (distance of 175 miles) across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and into Gibbstown would substantially increase but it is unknown by how much and whether LNG and NGL will both be carried.
- Would “transload” LNG round the clock directly from trucks on to shipping vessels, each ship taking about 15 days to fill, a much extended loading period that greatly increases the opportunity for accidents and spills. Other LNG facilities typically load ships in one day to minimize risk. At least 75 neighbors are within 200 feet of the site, including a day care and the Gibbstown Public School.
- NGL, classified by PHMSA as “liquefied hazardous gas” (LHG) would be unloaded from a 20-railcar rack to be stored in tanks and in the underground cavern. It would be loaded by a pipeline from storage to the ship at one of the Dock 2 berths for sale overseas. (i.e. Caribbean, Angola, Ireland)
- Air pollution from activities at the site, including truck traffic, diesel equipment, venting of LNG and NGL, has not been publicly discussed, nor have the impacts of flaring off of gas and/or the construction and operation of a proposed “small capacity” natural gas liquefier on site.
Gibbstown Logistics Center is located on the Delaware River at approximately River Mile 86 at 200 North Repauno Avenue, Gibbstown, Greenwich Township, Gloucester County, NJ, occupying approximately 371 acres included in Block 8, Lots 1, 2, 3, 4 and 4.02 in Greenwich Township, according to New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (Waterfront Development Permit WFD190001) but is described in other documents as 218 acres. The site is part of a 1630-acre tract previously owned by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (“DuPont”) since 1880, used by DuPont and others for industrial purposes, including the manufacture of chemicals and explosives, until about 20 years ago. It is a superfund site that is still contaminated by several toxics, including nitrobenzene, a highly toxic carcinogenic chemical.
Chemours Co. LLC (“Chemours”), a spin-off of DuPont, owns the property since 2015. DRP acquired the site for Gibbstown Logistics Center on June 30, 2016. Chemours is responsible for the cleanup of the entire site, including the Gibbstown Logistics Center site, using methods such as groundwater pumping.
LNG is a liquefied cryogenic flammable gas, cooled to at least -260 degrees F. It is dangerous to handle and store, bringing with it the hazards of a spill and release. If LNG liquid is released it creates a serious safety hazard for those around. Exposure to LNG can cause extreme freeze burns. LNG gas clouds expand to 600 times the amount of liquid and can travel many miles if not ignited. Spills that catch fire cannot be extinguished and bring with them serious risk of burn – second degree burns within 30 seconds for those exposed within a mile. LNG can cause a catastrophic Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.
Transporting LNG by both truck and rail entails safety risks similar to crude oil and other hazardous liquids and has not been fully vetted by agencies; accidents are occurring with truck transport today and rail car design has not been approved for the nation’s railways. NGLs are currently both trucked and railed in U.S.
No one should have to live in fear of an explosion or catastrophic fire in their backyard. The river cannot be sacrificed for dangerous LNG export. Add your name to this online petition to oppose this dangerous project!
For a copy of the No Gibbstown LNG petition to print out: https://bit.ly/2nVvBZN
To get involved in opposing the Gibbstown NJ LNG export terminal contact: firstname.lastname@example.org