Liquefied natural gas developer NorthernStar Natural Gas Co.'s request for land use at Bradwood Landing should be denied.
That's the advice county staff will give to the planning commission when it meets July 10 for a hearing on the company's application to build an LNG terminal 20 miles east of Astoria.
A group of contract planners hired by the county to review Bradwood's land-use application - a key local approval in the federal LNG permitting process - determined after months of study that the proposed LNG project does not comply with the county's planning policies.
Among other issues, experts said the company's plans would impose environmental impacts beyond the county's approval criteria and would require more local emergency services than are available.
The review team released their findings today in a 226-page report, detailing 27 county approvals requested by NorthernStar and the recommended action on each one. The report is posted on the county's Web site at www. co.clatsop.or.us
Houston-based NorthernStar needs county-approved zone changes and permits in order to build a $600 million facility beside the Columbia River on land accessed via Clifton Road off U.S. Highway 30.
Ed Wegner, director of the Clatsop County Community Development Department and Patrick Wingard, community development supervisor, worked with Columbia River Estuary Study Taskforce Director Catie Fernandez, contract planner Mitch Rohse and the recently contracted consulting company PBS&J of Portland to review the company's requests and make recommendations.
LNG facilities are designed to receive supercooled natural gas liquid from ships and reheat the gas for pipeline distribution. The proposed Bradwood Landing project - one of five LNG projects proposed in Oregon, four of which are on the Columbia River - involves complex actions that require county approval, including:
? replacing a bridge leading to the terminal site;
? dredging the river to create a turning basin for LNG tankers;
? disposing of dredge spoils;
? driving piling into the river to build a wharf;
? filling in a mill pond for the facility's footprint;
? building a gassification plant with room for three LNG storage tanks;
? realigning railroad tracks running through the site; and
? running 6 miles of natural gas pipeline through seven county zones
The rezoning for dredging and building the gassification plant on the property are among the requests that should be denied, according to the staff report.
Other problems with the company's application include public safety issues, conflicts with statewide planning goals and inconsistency with transportation standards on Highway 30 and Clifton Road.
While the facility is under construction, there will be 300 to 500 workers on site, creating a "small city" that would be serviceable only by Clifton Road in case of an emergency. Six engineers with PBS&J reviewed the site for safety concerns and determined that local emergency service providers don't have the resources to respond to additional demands generated by the Bradwood Landing LNG project. The project application "fails to comply" with the county's zone change criteria because of inadequate public facilities and services available at the site.
The report will be submitted as the staff recommendation for the county planning commission, a seven-member board that will make the first decision to approve or deny the company's application. The July 10 meeting will only be a hearing, though, with no decision on the project scheduled for that day. Another tentative hearing is slated for July 17.
County Manager Scott Derickson said NorthernStar will be allowed to provide testimony in support of its application at the hearing and may even submit additional information for the commission's consideration. Eventually, the planning commission's decision will go to the Clatsop County Commission for final approval. A tentative meeting of the board of commissioners is scheduled for Aug. 22.
Although the Bradwood project is further along than the state's four other proposed LNG projects in the federal LNG approval process, the Oregon LNG project, proposed by a separate company for a site on Warrenton's Skipanon Peninsula, has already received local rezoning approvals to build its facility. The Oregon LNG project entered the federal approval process last month and is holding a public hearing Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Warrenton Community Center.