May 10, 2005

Rhode Island wants U.S. masters on LNG ship bridges

The Rhode Island House of Representatives has voted 66-0 to approve legislation introduced by Rep. Raymond E. Gallison Jr. to require any LNG tanker to have an LNG-certified American master mariner present on each trip through Rhode Island waters and during transfer of cargo.

Gallison, chairman of the Special House Commission to Study the Transportation of Liquefied Natural Gas and a Democrat who represents District 69 in Bristol and Portsmouth, proposed the legislation (2005 - H5362Aaa) as a safety measure should either of the two proposed local LNG terminal projects go forward.

"If either of these LNG projects are approved, we need this assurance that there's someone on board with no stake in the delivery who knows how to identify safety problems on LNG tankers and would have no problem halting the shipment if there's a safety problem,' said Gallison, who has been prominent in efforts to fight the proposed Weaver's Cove LNG terminal in Fall River, Mass., and the expansion of the Keyspan LNG terminal in Providence. "We have too many people living and working along the route that these tankers would take to take any chances with safety."

The bill would require every LNG tanker entering Rhode Island waters to have an LNG-certified, federally licensed master mariner on board any time it enters Rhode Island waters north of a line between Sakonnet Point and Point Judith. The master would advise the ship's crew to perform any actions necessary to protect the safety of Rhode Islanders. The ship would also need the approval of the master to unload at the terminal.

The legislation would not affect existing requirements that all the tankers have on board a Rhode Island-licensed marine pilot whenever entering Rhode Island waters.

The legislation will now be forwarded to the Rhode Island Senate, which last week passed an identical bill (2005 - S0138Aaa) sponsored by Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis, a Democrat who represents District 33 in Coventry, East Greenwich, West Warwick and Warwick.

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