There are many concerns about a proposed Liquid Natural Gas terminal in the Gulf of Mexico, and these concerns were voiced Wednesday evening at a public hearing in Pascagoula.
ConocoPhillips wants to put the facility offshore, eleven miles south of Dauphin Island, Alabama. If approved, this would be the first offshore site in the United States, and Jackson County residents believe if they want to do it, it needs to be done right.
Only four people actually spoke at the meeting, all but one oppose the project for environmental and safety reasons, including Sierra Club president Louie Miller.
He's worried about what would happen if there were an explosion at one of the terminals.
"When you're talking about a fireball that could occur from one of these explosions, it could cover a two square mile area or circumference and a three mile burn area. The concern about an onshore facility is real," said Miller.
The project is basically offshore storage tanks of natural gas that has been chilled and condensed into a liquid. When needed, the ocean water is actually used to re-heat the gas back into a gaseous form. This can cause the ocean temperature to drop by ten degrees.
"There have been several important scientific reports recently that show that our oceans are in trouble. We have declining seafood productivity. We need to preserve what we have left and require more careful stewardship," said environmentalist Becky Gillette.
Not everybody at the public hearing opposed the proposal.
"I think this is going to be a very good project for Conoco as well as the Gulf Coast to bring in the much needed gas that's gonna be needed to supply the rest of the country," said commercial fisherman Paul Bosarge.
An environmental impact statement on the proposal should be ready by the fall of this year.
The Coast Guard and the Army Corps of Engineers will use the public input to draft the environmental impact statement.
The proposal will need the approval of several federal agencies. A decision could be made by April of next year.