LNG: DLNG terminal construction will unlock dangerous levels of ancient mercury from Passamaquoddy sediments.

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Methylmercury, an organic mercury compound – the cause of Minamata disease

It has been known for many years that sediments in the St. Croix River Estuary and Passamaquoddy Bay harbour dangerous levels of heavy metals and other toxic materials. These have accumulated from aerial emissions as well as historic dumping by industries which have operated on the St. Croix River for over 200 years. Many researchers, including me, have warned about the consequences of dredging the River, a plan that seems to surface with some regularity.

A recent publication, Speciation and bioavailability of mercury in well-mixed estuarine sediments, published in Marine Chemistry in 2004, reveals just how prevalent methylmercury, the cause of Minimata Disease, is in Passamaquoddy and St.Croix River sediments and warns about the dangers of resuspension.

Bob Godfrey of Save Passamaquoddy 3-Nation Alliance has submitted this work to FERC recommending cancellation of the Downeast LNG’s application that stands before them for a terminal at Robbinston, Maine … directly across the river from the resort town of St. Andrews, N.B. The full text of Godfrey’s submission follows.

Art MacKay


Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, NE Room 1A
Washington, DC 20426
eFiled on 2012 September 28

Re: Downeast LNG, Docket Nos. CP07-52-000, CP07-53-000, and CP07-53-001

Toxic mercury in St. Croix Estuary, and Environmental Justice

Dear Ms. Bose,

This comment is to express concerns about toxic mercury in the bottom of the Saint Croix Estuary in Passamaquoddy Bay around the area of Mill Cove, Robbinston, Maine, where Downeast LNG proposes to construct a pier of approximately 4,000-foot length in the marine estuary.

Toxic Mercury in the Saint Croix Estuary

To-date, FERC has not addressed mercury toxins in the Mill Cove-area waterway bottom that would be disturbed by the proposed Downeast LNG project. Approximately 4,000 feet of proposed pier and jetty construction would likely cause toxic mercury to reenter the water column and contaminate fish species consumed by Native American/ First Nations fishers and by the general population in the United States and Canada. A study by scientists from Simon Fraser University, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science, University of Toronto at Mississauga, and the Geological Survey of Canada, was done on toxic mercury levels in the area of interest. The study reported on the biohazard implications of disturbing those deposits in the waterway floor.

The study is entitled “Speciation and bioavailability of mercury in well-mixed estuarine sediments,” by Sunderland, Gobasa, Heyesc, Branfireund, Bayerd, Cranstone, and Parsonse; published in Marine Chemistry in 2004 (see attached PDF file, 02 Speciation and Bioavailability of_Mercury.pdf). It is especially disturbing to learn that the EPA participated in this fairly recent study, but no mention of it was made in the Downeast LNG Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).

Environmental Justice Requirements 

The EPA and other federal agencies participating in these proceedings have Environmental Justice obligations under President Clintonʼs Executive Order 12898, and under  a 2011 Memorandum of Understanding. Those obligations require preventing minority populations such as Native Americans/First Nations from adverse health and environmental impacts resulting from permitting the proposed Downeast LNG project. Contaminating subsistence fisheries consumed by area Native Americans/First Nations and economically disadvantaged citizens would violate those Environmental Justice requirements.

Since toxic contamination would likely occur in subsistence fisheries, area conventional fisheries, as well as in the marine food chain that supports endangered marine mammals, Save Passamaquoddy Bay believes a clear method of preventing that toxic contamination must be demonstrated by the applicant in order to comply with Environmental Justice requirements as well as good food safety practices.

Lacking a credible plan to prevent toxic contamination in violation of Environmental Justice equirements, Save Passamaquoddy Bay requests that FERC dismiss Downeast LNGʼs applications, or at the very least deny Downeast LNGʼs applications.

Very truly
Robert Godfrey
Researcher & Webmaster

CC:” Sen. Olympia Snowe
” Sen. Susan Collins
” Rep. Mike Michaud
” Rep. Chellie Pingree
” Rebecca Boucher, Esq.
” Service List

More information at: Save Passamaquoddy Bay USA Website

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