The Worst Possible Place for Heavy Industry
The land Annova LNG has leased encompasses 650 acres of the Loma Ecological Preserve. Lomas on the preserve have been called “miniature Galapagos Islands”(1) and are such critical wildlife habitat that until recently Annova’s LNG terminal site was leased by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife as a part of the wildlife corridor. In 1998 an ocelot was documented in this area as it crossed the ship channel traveling north. The ship channel presents no obstacle to the endangered cats, but the bright lights and noise of the LNG plant will prevent them from moving back and forth between the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge and Laguna Atascosa National Wildlife Refuge. The Annova site contains numerous wetlands that will be filled in, as well as starkly beautiful coastal prairie and dense brush that will be bulldozed and paved over. It’s also directly across from the Bahia Grande, the largest wetlands restoration project in North America. Annova plans to dredge a turning basin and widen the ship channel in front of the Bahia Grande Restoration Channel. Dredging increases turbidity and can stir up toxic sediments.
Major Polluter in Cameron County
poisonous gases that form smog, worsen asthma symptoms, and damage lungs. They make up the 'brown' in the brown cloud and could produce visible pollution in the area of the LNG plants.
Carbon Monoxide is a poison produced when fossil fuels do not burn completely. It is particularly harmful to pregnant women, fetuses, and babies.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals that contribute to smog, pollute water, and some, like benzene and toluene, are carcinogens and neurotoxins. There is no safe level of these highly toxic chemicals, so any amount is a problem.
Particulate matter is a mixture of extremely small particles and liquid droplets that are small enough to be inhaled and cause respiratory damage. Children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to particulate matter.
Green House Gases trap heat in the atmosphere and contribute to climate change. The two largest green house gas emitters in Cameron County, the Silas Ray power plant and the Brownsville municipal landfill, together produce only 130,815 tons each year.
Sulfur dioxide forms acids that harm marine life and kill plants. These pollutants would be emitted right next door to crucial wetlands and other habitat.
A Record of Pollution
Annova LNG is owned by Exelon, the same company which owns the Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant. In 2006, it was revealed that Exelon had failed to report multiple instances of radioactive tritium leaking into the groundwater during a decade of operating the Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station in Illinois.(2) In 2010 they paid more than $1 million to settle lawsuits arising from over two dozen leaks of tritium at three Illinois nuclear power plants.(3)
Annova has not made public and has not communicated to FERC or the Army Corps of Engineers of their plans for a pipeline.
On May 21, 2018, after multiple requests for over a year, the Army Corps of Engineers requested that Annova send them the plans for their pipeline within 30 days. If plans were not submitted, the Corps will assume Annova wishes to pursue the permit, and the application will be withdrawn.
The facilities include a massive infrastructure such as storage tanks and flares literally across the street from the biggest wetlands restoration project in North America, the Bahia Grande. Millions of dollars (local, state, and federal) and many organizations went into the ongoing project.
Cove Point LNG Train (published by Southern Maryland News)
LNG Threatens Our Existing Jobs
The massive industrialization and pollution that LNG will bring could erode important economic drivers such as commercial fishing, shrimping, and beach and nature tourism. Thousands of jobs here in the Rio Grande Valley depend on clean air, clean water and high quality fish and wildlife habitat. The lights and fiery flare stack will light up the sky within sight of South Padre Island’s beachfront hotels and condos, and the smog-producing emissions will foul the air. Those are not the sights and smells that draw tourists.
Annova will export LNG with two tanker ships per week or 125 per year. It will take 2 hours to enter the Brownsville Ship Channel and 2 hours to exit. This means major delays and complications for small vessels like shrimp boats. The US Coast Guard requires a 500 yard safety distance ahead and stern of LNG ships, which means public access to the jetties and other public areas may not be accessible to the public during tanker transport.
LNG Processing and Transport Is Inherently Risky
When LNG is spilled it evaporates and can form a flammable vapor cloud that can drift for some distance. If the cloud encounters an ignition source it will burn back to the LNG spill. LNG fires burn so hot that first responders cannot approach. A March 2014 explosion at an LNG plant in Washington State forced an evacuation of hundreds of people within a two-mile radius. Fortunately the fire burned itself out and the LNG did not ignite, but a local fire chief noted that if it had, everyone within three-quarters of a mile would have been killed.(4) The LNG refrigeration process also uses fuels such as propane and ethylene to cool the gas, and these are much more volatile than methane.
Annova LNG Will Not Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes
Annova LNG’s parent company has opposed the Federal Wind Production Tax Credit, saying that, “Exelon has long believed that there is no need to promote subsidies for proven technologies,”(5) but that has not stopped Annova LNG from seeking to avoid paying local taxes. Annova also requested a Chapter 313 tax abatement with PIISD, and was denied by the school board.
In April, 2015, Annova LNG requested a tax abatement with Cameron County. The request was tabled and may enter discussions again at anytime.
1 Richard C. Bartlett. Saving the Best of Texas. University of Texas Press, 1995.
2 “ Madigan, Glasgow File Suit For Radioactive Leaks At Braidwood Nuclear Plant” Illinois Attorney General’s Office, 16 Mar 2006. http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/pressroom/2006_03/20060316.html
3 “Attorney General Madigan / State’s Attorneys Reach Agreement with Exelon on Nuclear Power Safety.” Illinois Attorney General’s Office, March 11, 2010. http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/pressroom/2010_03/20100311.html
4 Kristi Pihl, “Evacuation Area Near Plant to Be Reduced.” Tri-City Herald. 31 March 2014. http://www.tricityherald.com/2014/03/31/2904040/natural-gas-facility-on-fire-near.html
5 “Exelon’s Public Policy Positions.” http://www.exeloncorp.com/performance/policypositions/overview.aspx