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U.S. EPA reopens comment period for Cabrillo Port water discharge permit; 30 day extension granted for public review of changes to draft permit

Release Date: 09/21/2006
Contact Information: Mark Merchant, (415) 947-4297

(09/21/06 - )San Francisco – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is announcing it is reopening the public comment period for the proposed BHP LNG Cabrillo Deepwater Port water discharge permit for an additional 30 days, ending on Oct. 23.

Modifications have been made by BHP to its original proposed permit request and the EPA has incorporated comments from the state of California and others into this revised proposal. The public is being asked to comment on the revised draft permit.

“We had a robust set of comments from the first public comment period,” said Alexis Strauss, the EPA’s water division director for the Pacific Southwest region. “This reopening of the comment period gives interested parties an opportunity to respond to the changes.”

Revisions made to the proposed permit include:

    • Temperature limits for the cooling water discharge consistent with the California Thermal Plan. The revised permit would include a maximum temperature for cooling water of 20o F above ambient at the discharge point and a maximum of 4o F above ambient 1,000 feet from the discharge point. This revision was recommended by several commenters including the Environmental Defense Center, the California Coastal Commission and the Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board.
    • Volume limit for cooling water discharge of 61 million gal/year. Many commenters expressed concerns about the elevated temperature of the cooling water discharge and the volume of the discharge (3.4 million gal/day). In response, the permittee, BHP Billiton LNG International, has revised the project design so most of the time the diesel engine cooling system would operate as a closed loop system. Heat from the diesel engines would be transferred to the water baths used to regasify the LNG. BHP estimates approximately eight days per year cooling water would still be discharged and that the annual volume would be about 61 million gallons, a decrease from the previous design which would require about 1.2 billion gallons per year to be discharged.
    • Require a baseline biological characterization study for plankton at the project location to assess potential losses from entrainment in cooling water and ballast water. This revision was recommended by the Los Angeles RegionalWater Quality Control Board and the California Department of Fish and Game. The revised permit would require a one-year sampling study to gather site-specific data on plankton.

The proposal is for a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for the proposed Cabrillo Deepwater LNG facility, a proposed importation terminal for liquefied natural gas. The initial proposed permit comment period closed on June 20.

The proposed terminal would consist of a floating storage and re-gasification facility located approximately 14 miles off the coast of Ventura County, Calif. Discharges such as cooling water, ballast water and deck drainage would be authorized by the proposed permit. The discharges would be subject to effluent limitations and monitoring requirements as specified in the permit.

The EPA invites comments on the proposed modifications of the draft permit, and will continue to accept comments on all other aspects of the proposed permit as well until the close of the extended comment period on Oct. 23, 2006. For more information or for a copy of the proposed modified permit and fact sheet you may visit: http://www.epa.gov/region09/liq-natl-gas/index.html