The Region

Oxnard Opposes Offshore LNG Plans

The City Council vote is unanimous. Its cooperation would be needed for the onshore portions of the projects.

July 15, 2004|Steve Chawkins | Times Staff Writer

The Oxnard City Council has unanimously voted to oppose the construction of two liquefied natural gas facilities in the Santa Barbara Channel.

Although the city has no authority over construction offshore, its approval would be needed for the onshore pipelines both projects would require.

The projects are proposed by BHP Billiton, an Australian minerals company, and Crystal Energy, a Houston-based investment group. Tankers filled with LNG would dock at each offshore facility, where the chilled liquid would be converted back to gas and pumped ashore into a network of existing pipelines.

The resolution approved Tuesday took the proposals to task for "potential severe negative environmental consequences" as well as significant possible risks to the safety of residents and the soundness of the local economy.

For months, city officials have criticized both plans, citing a failed effort to build an onshore LNG facility in Oxnard in 1977. A study at the time said 70,000 people could die in a cloud of flame if a tanker were to spill its contents.

Developers of the current projects countered that the science behind that scenario was flawed.

They anticipated the city's opposition but were disappointed by it.

"We think it's premature to make this judgment before the environmental impact report comes out," said Kathi Hann, a BHP spokeswoman.

She added that some local business groups also had urged the city to delay a decision.

The environmental report, which has been commissioned by the Coast Guard and the State Lands Commission, is to be issued this fall.

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