Corporate

FAQs

Community Concerns

How many LNG storage tanks are at Cove Point? What can you tell me about them?

There are seven storage tanks at the terminal. Four are original to the terminal and were placed into operation in 1978, one was placed in service in 2004 and two in 2008.

These tanks are considered single-wall storage tanks with a dike that is secondary containment. Each tank has a cryogenic inner tank – think large Thermos® bottle – four feet of insulation and a carbon steel outer tank. Each tank also sits inside its own dike that was engineered to hold 110 percent of its contents.

The tanks are inspected regularly to check their integrity and maintained to store LNG safely, just as any component would be. Their lifecycle is based on thermal cycling and age is not an issue. They are safe for the use of storing LNG. That said, if there was a leak, the LNG would be contained, would vaporize and dissipate into the atmosphere.

If the project is approved, at what time each day would you expect work to begin and end? What kind of noise and noise levels should neighbors to the facility expect during construction?

The standard Monday-Friday workday is planned to be within the window of 6 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with a night shift window of 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.  Weekend work will occur as needed on both shifts to maintain schedule.

Dominion and IHI/Kiewit will comply with all federal, state and local noise regulations during construction and operation. Daytime construction activities will include operations such as civil engineering work, foundations, welding, pipefitting and electrical installations. Nighttime operations will consist of construction activities with less noise out of respect to adjacent neighborhoods and ensure compliance with all noise ordinances. We will also use noise mitigation measures such as temporary sound walls.

What is Dominion doing to minimize the noise from the facility?

Cove Point must meet strict regulations to minimize noise from the facility. Dominion will build a 60-foot noise barrier inside the fence line of the property to minimize noise beyond the property line. This barrier will be between the site and the park and between the plant and Cove Point Road. All of the wall will be behind trees that are about 70-to-80-feet tall except at the entrance to the facility, providing an aesthetic balance and further dampening noise level. The wall will be similar to those found along interstate highways to minimize noise.

How will Dominion minimize traffic impacts that naturally come with a large construction project such as the Cove Point export project?

Dominion has been working with the Maryland State Highway Administration and Calvert County to come up with a plan that best minimizes any traffic impacts.

First, Dominion will establish an offsite parking area in the northwest corner of the intersection of Maryland Route 2/4 and Cove Point Road for the workers, who will ride shuttle buses to the construction site. The shuttle bus schedule will be staggered to minimize impacts on rush-hour traffic, school buses, tourist season, etc. The use of the offsite parking area will reduce traffic impacts greatly along Cove Point and Little Cove Point roads.

Second, the company will build new turn lanes and install a four-way stop light at the intersection of Maryland Route 2/4 and Cove Point Road to allow safe crossing to the offsite parking area and the route to the station. Another turn lane will be added to eastbound Cove Point Road at its intersection with Little Cove Point Road to increase safety and reduce traffic impacts. Dominion expects the construction of these road improvements to begin in late January and be completed in June.

Finally, Dominion will only move the larger pieces of equipment needed for the export project during the night when traffic along the roads is significantly less than during the day. The company is planning to build a temporary pier on the Patuxent River in Calvert County near the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge. The larger pieces of equipment will be taken off barges at this location and moved during the night to Cove Point with required safety escorts to the construction site. About 75 trips, or about one or two each week, from late 2014 through 2016 are planned.

The plan, when completed, will ensure around-the-clock access for emergency responders to neighborhoods along Cove Point and Little Cove Point roads throughout the three-year construction period.

Will the Cove Point export project pose a risk to the Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant?

No. Calvert Cliffs thoroughly evaluated the potential impacts of Cove Point in 1993 when the LNG facility was being reactivated. The study concluded that Cove Point and its associated LNG transport shipments did not pose an unacceptable safety risk to the continued safe operation of Calvert Cliffs. The study was updated in 2003 after Dominion acquired Cove Point and improved the existing facility, reaching the same conclusion. The study was updated again in 2008 to evaluate the changes that resulted from the site expansion, with the same results. Calvert Cliffs has determined that there is no need to do another evaluation because of the addition of the export facility.

Will the construction of the Cove Point export facility require the closing of the adjacent Cove Point Park? What about Calvert Cliffs State Park?

No. Neither Cove Point Park nor Calvert Cliffs State Park will be used for any part of the construction or operation of the Dominion Cove Point Terminal. They will remain open.

Rather than build a 60 foot high noise wall for 3/4 of a mile around the facility, why not install active noise cancellation equipment and dispense with the wall?

We are using sound barriers because it is a simple, proven technology. When the export project has been completed, we will have to prove that our operation is in compliance with noise ordinances set by the county and the state. Actual measurements will be made and if the sound level is higher than allowed, we will have to fix it prior to beginning operation.

Cove Point Road is inadequate for the volume of traffic and the size of the equipment that is planned to utilize it. What are you going to do about that?

Dominion has been working with the Maryland State Highway Administration and Calvert County to come up with a plan that best minimizes any traffic impacts.

First, Dominion will establish an offsite parking area in the northwest corner of the intersection of Maryland Route 2/4 and Cove Point Road for the workers, who will ride shuttle buses to the construction site. The shuttle bus schedule will be staggered to minimize impacts on rush-hour traffic, school buses, tourist season, etc. The use of the offsite parking area will reduce traffic impacts greatly along Cove Point and Little Cove Point roads.

Second, the company will build new turn lanes and install a four-way stop light at the intersection of Maryland Route 2/4 and Cove Point Road to allow safe crossing to the offsite parking area and the route to the station. Another turn lane will be added to eastbound Cove Point Road at its intersection with Little Cove Point Road to increase safety and reduce traffic impacts. Dominion expects the construction of these road improvements to begin in late January and be completed in June.

Finally, Dominion will only move the larger pieces of equipment needed for the export project during the night when traffic along the roads is significantly less than during the day. The larger pieces of equipment will be taken off barges at the pier in Solomons and moved during the night to Cove Point with required safety escorts to the construction site. About 75 trips, or about one or two each week, from late 2014 through 2016 are planned.

The plan, when completed, will ensure around-the-clock access for emergency responders to neighborhoods along Cove Point and Little Cove Point roads throughout the three-year construction period.

You say your project is designed to keep all threats inside the facility boundaries, but a 2006 study by the Maryland Dpt. of Natural Resources says that is not true, that there is a very real danger to residents living near the plant. Why isn’t a follow-up study being done to identify risks?

Safety is one of the concerns being addressed by FERC and the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) in their reviews of the project. The FERC review has been underway for nearly 21 months and the Maryland Power Plant Research Project is an active participant in that docket. Dominion Cove Point’s analysis continues to show that all risks from facility operations will be contained within the site. There has not been an injury or fatality caused outside the boundaries of an LNG facility anywhere in the world in about 70 years. Dominion Cove Point understands the 2006 DNR study assessed any offsite risks as minimal, and DNR did not object to the expansion.

What impact will moving the utilities during road improvement construction along Cove Point Road have on electric, cable and phone service on Cove Point Road?

In general residents should see little, if any, impact to their electric, cable and phone services. SMECO has told us it will contact customers a day or two in advance prior to any brief service interruptions. Verizon indicated its tie-ins should be seamless because it will be doing the work at night (1 a.m.- 6 a.m.). Comcast said customers with fiber cable will be seamless as the work also will be completed at night (1 a.m.-6 a.m.) and customers with coaxial cable will have brief interruptions when work is completed during the day. Moving electric, cable and phone services underground is not expected to begin until summer.

Environmental Impact

What affect will the expansion have on the forests, rivers and wetlands?

All permanent construction for the export project at the Dominion Cove Point facility will be inside the fence in the existing industrial area.  Dominion will continue to keep the remaining 800 acres of the site under conservation management. This includes the beach, marsh, wetlands and forested areas that support plants, animals and migratory birds. Trees inside the fence that need to be removed for construction will be replaced 2-for-1 in Calvert County in locations to be determined in consultation with county officials. This will be done in compliance with federal, state, and local regulations.

An offsite area that will be used as an equipment lay-down yard will require the clearing of forested land and temporary impacts to a stream and wetland. Other existing streams and wetlands will be protected with a 100-foot buffer. Additionally, other trees will be preserved and more replanted to offset those that are cleared. The site will be restored following completion of the construction activities.

How much water does Dominion need to use to build the project? How much water will the liquefaction process require each day?

Cove Point is seeking a permit to withdraw an average of approximately 40,000 gallons of water per day during the three-year construction period from the Lower Patapsco aquifer, one of five underground sources of water in the vicinity of the terminal. The water will be used to test the integrity of pipes and equipment, flush systems and control dust during construction.

For operations following completion of construction, Cove Point is seeking a permit to withdraw an average of 250,000 gallons of water per day from the Lower Patapsco aquifer. Most of the water will become steam in a process that utilizes waste heat to generate electricity for the LNG Terminal. Dominion expects the actual withdrawal to be less because of water recycling that will decrease the water withdrawal requirement for steam generation.

In the vicinity of the terminal, the Lower Patapsco aquifer is approximately 1,500 feet below the ground surface.

No additional wells will be drilled and Dominion will not use water from the Chesapeake Bay.

What about new air emissions from Cove Point?

The Maryland Public Service Commission will set legally binding emission limits for the Cove Point project based on the requirements of federal and state regulations for the protection of public health, welfare and the environment. Any new air emissions will be in compliance with established regulations.

Two highly efficient, natural gas-fired turbines are proposed to be built on-site to drive the main refrigerant compressors that are needed to cool the natural gas. The turbines will follow the same requirements set for other similar kinds of facilities, such as natural gas-fired power stations. (Greenhouse gas emissions are discussed below.) Waste heat from the turbines' exhaust will create steam that will be used to generate additional electrical power for on-site use.

What about greenhouse gas emissions?

Greenhouse gas emissions from the new turbines will be in line with those from mid-size power stations that are being built in Maryland and elsewhere around the country. The potential greenhouse gas emissions for the facility will be about 3.3 million tons per year. Actual emissions will be less because this is the potential level if all turbines were operating at their maximum output for the maximum amount of time and if we were importing and liquefying/exporting natural gas at the same time. While technically possible, it makes no economic sense to go through the substantial expense of liquefying natural gas and loading it onto a ship while simultaneously unloading a ship to re-gasify natural gas.

What about the air emissions from the ships at the pier?

Emissions from the ships while they are at the Cove Point terminal must comply with all applicable federal and state air quality regulations.

What about the ballast water in the ships?

The U.S. Coast Guard regulates the discharge of ballast water. Pursuant to U.S. Coast Guard regulations, ships coming to Cove Point must manage their ballast water – for example, by exchanging their ballast outside the Chesapeake Bay with deep ocean water – and biological organisms on their hulls. A scientific advisory board reviewed the regulations for the Coast Guard and concluded that they protected the environment. All ships entering the bay, including those headed to Baltimore and other ports, must follow the regulations and implement ballast water management and routine vessel cleaning to remove organisms and sediment. The Coast Guard boards and inspects all commercial vessels entering the bay to ensure they are meeting all applicable regulations.

Instead of cutting down 95+ acres of trees in the watershed of Helen Creek, a designated stream protected by agreement with The Nature Conservancy, why not use the Patuxent Business Park?

We looked closely at the business park but found that there are numerous restrictions on the types of businesses and uses that are allowed. We could not use it as a laydown and staging area for construction material, nor would it provide adequate space for contractor parking. The restrictions were set by the state of Maryland. State grant funds were used to build the business park.

We are all concerned about the volumes of toxic waste that will be generated by the plant. We need a clear and detailed plan for handling the waste and for minimizing the accompanying air and water pollution.

The project has been designed with the environment in mind. Two highly efficient, natural gas-fired turbines are proposed to be built on-site to drive the main refrigeration equipment that is needed to cool the natural gas. Waste heat from the turbines’ exhaust will create steam that will be used to generate the additional electrical power needed for on-site use. Offsets will be purchased as called for by federal and state law to keep emissions of nitrogen oxides and volatile organic compounds, which are precursors to ground-level ozone, within the standards of the Washington, DC-MD-VA air quality region.

We will comply with all local, state and federal regulations on hazardous wastes. Any new air emissions will be in strict compliance with stringent state and federal clean air regulations. There will be no settling ponds built or additional releases to the soil or to groundwater from this project.

Other

What steps will you take to minimize light pollution?

The lighting fixtures installed or modified for the export project will be “Night Sky” compliant as required by Calvert County ordinances and will meet U.S. Coast Guard security requirements. The lighting will be designed in accordance with the recommended practices of the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America and will be adequate for operational safety and security purposes while minimizing off-site visibility. We will use light emitting diode (LED) lighting in all exterior fixtures. All exterior lighting will be designed to shine downward and not above the horizontal plane.

Isn't Dominion a "dirty coal" generator of electricity?

Dominion is extremely proud of its environmental record. Our generation fleet is one of the cleanest in the nation. We are in the process of closing, selling or converting to cleaner fuels 11 coal-fired power plants. We are reducing emissions of sulfur dioxide, mercury and nitrogen oxides by 80 percent to 90 percent. And our carbon footprint also is one of the best in the industry. The National Resources Defense Council says we are among best third of major utilities in the country in terms of carbon intensity -- the amount of CO2 emitted relative to the amount of electricity generated.

The one new coal-fired power plant -- Virginia City in Southwestern Virginia -- has what may be the toughest air permit in the country. It is designed to use renewable biomass for up to 20 percent of its fuel. It also burns waste coal – gob – that is piled up along streams and creeks. Using gob as fuel removes a source of water pollution.

Is Dominion reaching out to engage minority businesses in the vendor bidding process for the Cove Point export project?

 Yes. Dominion’s outreach to the minority business community has been conducted in partnership with the Southern Maryland Black Chamber of Commerce (SMBCC), the Calvert Minority Alliance and the Maryland Washington Minority Companies Association (MWMCA).  Over the past year, we have conducted the following outreach activities/events:

  • Meetings and tours of Cove Point were conducted for the President of the MWMCA and board members of SMBCC.
  • Dominion and Kiewit sponsored and exhibited at the November meeting of MWMCA.  Dominion and Kiewit provided information on potential procurement opportunities for small and minority businesses associated with the Cove Point Export Project and encouraged companies to register on the One Cove Point website.
  • Kiewit conducted a minority business procurement workshop in Calvert County, sponsored by the SMBCC and the Calvert Minority Business Alliance.
  • Two workshops were held in January 2014 sponsored by Calvert County and the Calvert County Chamber of Commerce attended by many minority businesses who subsequently registered on the www.1covepoint.com website.

The SMBCC has asked Kiewit to sponsor an additional procurement seminar for minority businesses during the first quarter of 2014. Additional information on the vendor registration process is available at www.1covepoint.com.

Where can I read a copy of Dominion’s application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission?

The FERC application is available on our Cove Point News and Updates page. Scroll down to the headline that says "FERC Application Filed" and click on the link. The application and all associated filings are several pages long on the FERC website, which includes the 12,000-page application and more than 9,000 pages of supplemental testimony.

Dominion filed notice with the FERC in June 2012 that it was planning to add export capability at Cove Point. The FERC has been researching and studying the application since then. The formal application was made in April 2013.

Does Dominion need to build additional pipelines?

No. Dominion is not building a new pipeline for this project. One new electric-driven compressor to be built at an existing station in Virginia will move gas along an existing pipeline to the Cove Point facility as part of the project.

Is the natural gas compressor station that Dominion wants to build in Myersville, Md., part of the project?

No. That natural gas compressor station is part of another, separate project of Dominion Transmission Inc., and is not moving gas to Cove Point. It is needed to move additional supplies of natural gas to two customers, Washington Gas Light and Baltimore Gas & Electric.

Why don’t you build the temporary pier at the Cove Point facility rather than adjacent to the Gov. Thomas Johnson Bridge?

The road that we would have to build from a temporary pier in the Chesapeake Bay at Cove Point to the construction site would have a steep slope unsuitable for transporting heavy loads. The temporary pier and land near the bridge will allow for safe unloading and transporting to the terminal.

How many permits or approvals must Dominion receive before construction and are most of them environmental?

Before construction can begin, the project will require about 50 government permits and approvals as part of a thorough and comprehensive review by county, state and federal agencies. These permits and approvals include rigorous environmental regulatory reviews. This includes approvals by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Maryland Department of the Environment, the Maryland Public Service Commission and Calvert County, including environmental permits. The FERC application alone is 12,000 pages and has been supplemented with more than 6,000 additional pages in response to questions. The process provides numerous opportunities for public participation.

Why is FERC doing an Environmental Assessment for this project rather than an Environmental Impact Statement, as requested by some project opponents?

The FERC Application alone is 12,000 pages long and has been supplemented with thousands of pages of additional materials. The FERC Environmental Assessment will include a thorough evaluation on the potential impacts of the project. It will describe Dominion Cove Point’s proposed construction procedures and mitigation measures, and make recommendations for additional mitigation and/or conservation measures to avoid or further reduce impacts on the affected environment. The FERC is analyzing information that has been filed by other parties in the proceeding. All substantive issues identified by parties will be addressed in the assessment. FERC staff will propose mitigation measures and recommend to the FERC Commissioners that those mitigation measures be included as conditions to any order that the FERC may issue.

The Maryland Power Plant Research Project (PPRP) has been a “Cooperating Agency” with the FERC in the preparation of the Environmental Assessment. PPRP also prepared its thorough analysis of the environmental, socioeconomic, and other impacts of the project for the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN). Specifically, this analysis is the 236-page draft Environmental Review of the proposed 130-megawatt generating facility within the Cove Point Liquefaction Project (“Environmental Review Document” or “ERD”). The ERD provides support for the PPRP’s 56 pages of Initial Proposed Conditions issued on January 22, 2014, which DCP has agreed to follow.

How many ships can the terminal expect each year?

We expect about the same number of ships as there were at the peak of the import activity in 2004 and 2005. That is about one ship every four days, or approximately 85 ships a year. The maximum number of ships permitted is 200 a year, or one about every other day. For comparison, about 14,000 commercial ships pass Cove Point annually.

How much natural gas could be exported each day?

About 770 million cubic feet per day could be exported, which would make Cove Point the smallest of the export projects approved thus far.

Won’t this cause U.S. natural gas prices to increase?

U.S. Energy Information Administration study on the effect of natural gas exports says that exports are expected to have a minimal impact on U.S. gas prices, holding down costs for consumers and allowing American businesses to retain a significant advantage over international competitors.

On March 6, 2014, NERA Economic Consulting released an update to the study of the macroeconomic impacts of liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports that was issued by the US Department of Energy (DOE) in December 2012. The study found that LNG exports provide net economic benefits in all the scenarios investigated, and the greater the level of exports, the greater the benefits.

It also found that the market for LNG exports is self-limiting, in that little or no natural gas will be exported if the price of natural gas in the United States increases much above current expectations.

Instead of using well water, why not install desalination equipment so that water from the Chesapeake Bay can be used instead?

Energy is a key issue regarding desalinization. To have sufficient energy for such an operation, we would need to build additional electrical generation facilities at Cove Point. This would increase the emissions of the project, which has been designed to minimize its impact on the environment. It also would require substantial redesign of the project layout, which is contained within the existing industrial section of the site. Overall, the desalinization idea is interesting but not practical, in our opinion.

Where does the natural gas come from and does any of it come from fracking?

Most natural gas produced in the United States for the last several decades has been produced by a process called hydraulic fracturing. Modern techniques, including horizontal drilling coupled with hydraulic fracturing, have enabled the country to develop new reserves of clean-burning natural gas from shale formations previously untapped.
 
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has been carefully reviewed by county, state, and federal regulatory agencies and is strictly regulated.  President Obama and the Environmental Protection Agency believe that modern drilling techniques have provided new sources of energy that will result in cleaner air. The new sources have also reduced the country’s dependence on foreign energy.
 
The customers that will use the Cove Point export facility will be responsible for procuring their supplies and transporting such supplies to Cove Point. Dominion will provide transmission services through the Cove Point pipeline, the liquefaction service and the export service. Dominion does not own the natural gas and will not control from where the natural gas will come.
 
The Dominion Cove Point pipeline is connected to three major interstate pipelines that, in turn, are interconnected with the country’s natural gas transmission system grid, so the natural gas could come from virtually anywhere in the United States.

Why has Dominion chosen to use gas-fired turbines to power the Cove Point LNG Terminal export project’s liquefaction equipment rather than electric motors and purchase electricity from the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative?

Using electric power to drive the compressors would require either purchasing electricity from an outside supplier and having it delivered to the terminal through a new electric transmission power line, which would require an easement, or building stand-alone electric generation capability inside the existing industrial area. Each option was carefully evaluated. The project’s design using gas turbines was found to be most efficient and have the lowest overall environmental impact.

Purchasing electricity from an outside supplier was found to not be feasible for several reasons, including that the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO), the local electric power provider, told us that it does not have sufficient transmission capacity available to the terminal to provide the approximately 240 megawatts needed.

Also, an electric motor large enough to drive the compressors is not feasible because the terminal is not large enough for both an electric motor of the needed size and the proposed liquefaction equipment.

NYSE : (April 23, 2014) D 71.06 0.19