Coast Guard finds Maine waterway conditionally ‘suitable’ for LNG

The following is the text of a press release issued by the U.S. Coast Guard:

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Coast Guard issued a letter of recommendation to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Wednesday, stating the waterway proposed for use by vessel traffic associated with the Downeast LNG, Inc., liquefied natural gas facility in Mill Cove, Robbinston, Maine, is suitable provided that recommended risk mitigation measures outlined in a supporting waterway suitability report are fully implemented.

The letter, issued by Capt. James B. McPherson, Captain of the Port for Coast Guard Sector Northern New England, states that if and when the risk mitigation measures are put into effect by Downeast LNG, they will sufficiently mitigate the identified risks associated with LNG traffic on the Passamaquoddy Bay Waterway. The waterway includes the waters of Head Harbor Passage, Western Passage and Passamaquoddy Bay.

The Coast Guard made its suitability determination after a comprehensive review that followed applicable U.S. Coast Guard Navigation and Vessel Inspection Circulars. The review focused on navigational safety and maritime security risks posed by LNG marine traffic and the measures needed to responsibly manage those risks. During the review, the Coast Guard consulted a variety of stakeholders, including the Passamaquoddy Bay/Downeast Regional Sub-Committee of the Area Maritime Security committee, the Maine and New Hampshire Port Safety forum, and other ad hoc groups.

“The Coast Guard engaged in significant public outreach and a comprehensive interagency review to ensure all safety and security risks were identified during the process,” said Rear Adm. Brian M. Salerno, Assistant Commandant for the Coast Guard’s Marine Safety, Security and Stewardship Directorate. “This yielded broad government support for the Coast Guard’s finding that the waterway is suitable for LNG tankers provided all navigation safety and security risk-mitigation measures are fully implemented by Downeast LNG.

The waterway suitability report and the letter of recommendation were produced by the Coast Guard as part of the agency’s contribution to the FERC review process. FERC will use the Coast Guard’s report to publish a draft environmental impact statement. FERC has responsibility for LNG facility siting, environmental impact, construction authorization and for issuing certificates for import and export of LNG. Submission of the waterway suitability report and letter of recommendation completes the Coast Guard’s role as a cooperating agency to assist FERC in developing a comprehensive review of the Downeast LNG facility proposal. While implementation of the risk mitigation measures identified in the letter of recommendation and the accompanying report is the responsibility of the project proponent, the Coast Guard is the appropriate agency to ensure full implementation of the risk mitigation measures prior to the operation of the Downeast LNG facility.

The letter of recommendation and the supporting waterway suitability report provided to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, when posted, may be viewed online by clicking here.

For more information about FERC’s permitting process visit their website at

By Professional Mariner Staff