DRBC approves dock, adds products to Gibbstown project

Jun 24th, 2019

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) unanimously approved construction of a second dock and associated storage that would add LNG and other energy products to the proposed Gibbstown Logistics Center in southern New Jersey. The commission’s June 12 action followed a June 6 public hearing and a 15-day comment period.

The project’s first dock, which was completed in December 2018, already was authorized to handle freight including automobiles, noncontainerized break bulk cargoes, bulk products, and liquids from either trucks or rail cars.

DRBC said the second dock would support transloading of a variety of bulk liquid products, including butane, isobutane, propane, ethane, and LNG. The products would arrive at the site by truck or rail. Once there, they would be transferred to vessels. No bulk liquid products would be manufactured at the site, and there would be no bulk storage of LNG, DRBC said.

Maya K. van Rossum, who leads the Delaware Riverkeeper Network (DRN) in Bristol, Pa., said DRBC did not provide adequate time for public comments on what would be the first LNG export operation on the Delaware River at the site of a closed chemical plant.

“It was only on May 28 when [DRN] wrote a scathing letter to multiple agencies accusing them of the site’s not just being a dock-and-dredging operation, but also a new LNG export facility,” she told OGJ. “DRBC only confirmed this information at the June 6 hearing, so the public had no information about the most significant element of the proposal.”

It now will be essential for both the US Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to develop full environmental impact statements on this proposed change, van Rossum said.

DRBC said the second dock’s construction would require dredging of 665,000 cu yards of sediment (primarily silts and sands) in a 45-acre area to provide access to the Delaware River’s Federal Navigation Channel.

The dock will consist of a wharf featuring two deep water berths to accommodate a range of oceangoing vessels of a maximum length of 966 ft and maximum draft of 39.7 ft, the commission said. “It is important to note that DRBC’s regulatory authority is limited to the construction and dredging aspects of the Dock 2 project. DRBC generally does not regulate operations or ship cargos. Additionally, DRBC does not regulate LNG,” it said.

“This is a dangerous precedent, having such a facility on the Delaware River and having agencies hide important information so they can work on these proposals,” van Rossum told OGJ. “The [ACE] won’t be able to claim that in approving the first dock, the LNG element was not a foreseeable part of the proposal because Delaware River Partners [the project’s sponsor] contacted the US Coast Guard that it planned to export LNG at the site.”

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