By Michael Holtzman
Count Sen. Scott Brown on board with those opposed to the proposed Weaver's Cove liquefied natural gas off-berth terminal in Mount Hope Bay.
"It's shortsighted to put the facility there," Brown said.
His comments followed a weekend trip to Fall River to see where Hess LNG and its partners propose spending $500 million for an on-shore LNG storage facility fed by a 4-mile pipeline to an off-berth terminal in the bay.
Proponents say the project would add 400 permanent jobs and 1,000 jobs during three years of construction.
Brown clearly stated his opposition stems from the site and security concerns, not with energy development and job creation.
"To me, it's location, location, location," he said.
He questioned building the terminal "in the middle of that harbor and in the middle of a passageway," saying the presence of 950-foot tankers transporting LNG through a narrow, busy harbor could detract from the Coast Guard's job of protecting the coast.
He took the concern a step further.
"It's dangerous," Brown said, "and it's potentially attractive to terrorism."
Brown, a Republican who upset Attorney General Martha Coakley in a special election for the late Edward M. Kennedy's seat, said he supports "LNG and stepping back on foreign oil."
But Brown expressed concerns over the heavily populated Weaver's Cove site and new technology he said developers would be using. He called such development "a catastrophic situation potentially." He urged Weaver's Cove Energy to rethink the project, while stating he'd not yet expressed that stance to them.
Sen. John Kerry and Reps. Barney Frank and James McGovern, all Democrats, have gone on record as staunchly opposed to the project since it was proposed eight years ago. The state legislative delegation has also, as have most municipal leaders.
"I'm the new kid on the block. I wanted to get up to speed on that issue," Brown said of his tour, arranged in conjunction with the local Coalition for Responsible Siting of LNG.
He said he was aware of the project's significance for the area.
"We've been calling the senator's office for a bit, and they reached out to us," said Joseph Carvalho, the coalition president.
Carvalho, a long-time opponent, said Brown concurred with the group's position that Weaver's Cove in northern Fall River is a densely populated area that could be harmed by an accident. He was heartened by the new senator's statement that public safety needed to always come before jobs, regardless of the need to create jobs.
"We feel validated and encouraged by the senator's visit, knowledge of the project and his response," Carvalho said.
Among those on the boat tour were Mayor Will Flanagan, former Mayor Edward M. Lambert Jr., state Rep. David Sullivan and members of the coalition and the media.
Brown held a brief press conference after the tour.