PHOTOS BY RON BAILEY
Lusby, MD – The first of approximately 80 ‘heavy hauls’ from a temporary pier in Solomons to the site of the state’s largest construction project is in the books.
The task of transporting the components that arrive by barge to Dominion Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Plant in Lusby are part of the intense labor effort to construct a $3.8 billion liquefaction unit at the facility on the Chesapeake Bay.
The maiden haul was completed during the early morning hours of Wednesday, May 20.
“The largest pieces of equipment arrive by barge at the temporary pier built in the Patuxent River at “Offsite Area B” in Solomons,” stated Dominion Media Relations and Community Relations Manager Karl R. Neddenien. “From there, they are moved about six miles on specially designed transport vehicles to the terminal on Cove Point Road in Lusby. The transports travel north on Maryland Route 2/4 and at several points switch into the southbound lane, still traveling north, to avoid obstacles. The State Highway Administration works with state and county law enforcement to control traffic along the route and maintain safe conditions during the transports. The initial move was for the first of eight heat recovery steam generators that will be transported. They are key components in the system that recycles exhaust heat from the two natural gas-fired turbines that will power the compressors being built for the project. By recovering the exhaust heat, less fuel is needed to produce the electricity used in the liquefaction process. The process is similar to that in a combined-cycle electric generating unit. This exhaust heat recovery also reduces Cove Point’s environmental impact. The heat recovery steam generators are about 90 feet long, 17 feet wide and 10 feet tall, and they weigh up to 395,000 pounds each—they are not identical.”
Neddenien reported that the second haul is planned for Wednesday evening, May 20.
“The Cove Point Liquefaction Project Team is advising motorists to expect possible delays between 9 p.m. Wednesday and 5 a.m. tomorrow [Thursday, May 21] on Route 2/4 from Cove Point Road to north of the Governor Thomas Johnson Bridge as the second heavy haul transit is scheduled to take place,” Neddenien stated. Motorists are reminded that Route 765 (H.G. Trueman Road) is open to traffic during the hauling operations and parallels Route 2/4.
The issue of adequately notifying the public about the heavy hauls was a hot topic at the Tuesday, May 19 meeting of the Calvert County Commissioners.
Tracey Eno of Calvert Citizens for a Healthy Community, one of the local organizations opposed to the Dominion project, told the board the public has not been adequately notified of the pending operations. “No roadside flashing electronic message boards, nothing on the Calvert County Government Facebook page, nothing in yesterday’s Calvert Currents, your BOCC newsletter; no press release from Economic Development, no PSAs [public service announcements] on the radio, no bulletins posted in town, no phone alert,” Eno stated.
While Eno acknowledged that Dominion had sent out notification letters to a few residents, bought an advertisement about the heavy hauls in a local newspaper and sent out a morning e-mail, she stated the company’s documents “provide inconsistent and incomplete information. Our assessment—poor planning, lack of communication, lack of preparation disregard for local residents.”
Commissioner Mike Hart [R – District 1] agreed with some of the points Eno raised, affirming variable message boards need to be used to keep motorists informed.
“This has not been a smooth first run, in my opinion,” said Hart.
As for the suggestion the county also use its reverse 911 to alert residents when the heavy hauls are underway, two commissioners indicated that did not appear to be a good plan.
“That’s for emergencies,” said Commissioner Tom Hejl [R – At-large].
“These hauls are at night,” said Commissioner Evan K. Slaughenhoupt Jr. [R – District 3]. “Most people are in bed. Why should they get a phone call that some road is going to be closed while they’re asleep?”
Slaughenhoupt added that there would likely be a “lessons learned” discussion once the first heavy haul is completed.
Contact Marty Madden at firstname.lastname@example.org