By Ted Carter
April 2, 2012 -- El Paso Natural Gas LNG says it is withdrawing its application to reactivate trucking facilities on Savannah's Elba Island and won't be routing dozens of tanker trucks through downtown Savannah streets.
The Houston-based liquefied natural gas importer insists the decision against moving trucks loaded with liquefied natural gas through Savannah came purely as a business decision, but Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson attributes the decision to sustained public resistance locally.
In a statement Friday, Jackson credited the company as a local jobs provided and an important energy resource for this entire country. But she emphasized the tankers trucks did not belong on Savannah's congested streets and near its neighborhoods.
"This proposed trucking operation posed too great a risk for the citizens of Savannah," she said.
Much of the concern centered on the potential for catastrophe should a tanker truck have an accident downtown or near a populated neighborhood. A huge and long-burning fire could result from an accident, city officials feared.
"Mayor Otis Johnson and other members of the previous City Council saw this danger," Jackson added. She noted they worked closely with city staff and public safety officials to address the issue
She also praised the efforts by Citizens for Clean Air and the Sierra Club and residents of the Pine Gardens neighborhood to fight approval of the El Paso Corp.'s permit..
"The City of Savannah took an in-depth, critical look at this proposal to protect our residents. And many civic-minded residents stepped forward to join us,the mayor said.
The El Paso Corp. announced the decision Friday, putting an end to the company's 2010 proposal to transport hazardous fuel through Savannah.
Elba Island terminal operator Southern LNG -- a partnership of Atlanta Gas Light and El Paso Corporation -- wanted the plan approved last year, but safety concerns delayed the process.
Company spokesman Bill Baerg says the decision was a business move, Georgia Public Broadcasting reported Friday.
Baerg, in comments to GPB, said: "What was driving the application to reactivate the truck loading facilities was a lease with Southeast LNG. Since we're told from our customer that they're no longer interested in that at this point, we decided to withdraw our application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission."
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