After a recent meeting with a 30-year merchant marine veteran, concerns over the safety zones for navigation of LPG tankers came to focus. For instance in Tampa, according to federal regulations, vessels carrying LPG are permitted to enter and transit Tampa Bay and Hillsborough Bay only with a minimum of 3 miles visibility. Now consider Maine fog and visibility issues. He also brought to my attention some tankers are of foreign registry and for their crews English may be a second language. We have seen over and over how lack of clear communication can create a small problem that can grow until its a larger more complicated and dangerous problem.
Here are some additional quick facts about LPG Tanker Ships and Penobscot Bay:
- LPG tankers are typically 700-800 feet long; larger than any existing shipping in the Bay
- They will require exclusion zones which will interrupt ferry service, fishing and boating
- Penobscot Bay has no fire-tugs capable of responding to an LPG tanker fire
At the end of the week, I had the opportunity at the Camden Windjammer Festival to tour the schooners Angelique, Lewis French and Mary Day, all beautiful ships, all very well cared for by their owners. I also had the chance to meet with Windjammer captains, Garth and Mike, update them on the status of the LPG tank, and discuss how the tankers will shut down parts of Penobscot Bay. TBNT certainly can use their help and will make strong efforts to bring them aboard.
News also this past week; the Islesboro Board of Selectmen have sent a letter to the Searsport Board of Selectmen, all local governments, and Maine’s Congressional delegation to endorse the need for the Good Harbor study and pledge full cooperation. Attend your own city council or Board of Selectmen meeting (a list of meetings is on www.tbnt.org ”Get Involved” page) and voice the need of the study and cooperation. The more officials hear the better. It’s critical we stay involved.
Good Harbor will begin interviews with local and regional EMS personnel mid-September.