Terror analyst cites threat
from Providence LNG plan
01:16 AM EDT on Tuesday, May
BY TIMOTHY C. BARMANN
PROVIDENCE -- A former
White House counter-terrorism adviser said the liquefied natural gas
project proposed in Providence
would provide an "extremely
attractive" target for terrorist groups.
"There are very few
things you can attack in urban areas that explode the way this would,"
said Richard A. Clarke, a former
senior adviser to President Bill
Clinton, and President George W. Bush.
"We don't see the reason to
provide [terrorists] with additional opportunities when there are
Clarke was in Providence yesterday to deliver his
assessment of the security risks associated with the proposal by KeySpan
L.P. to expand its LNG facility in the Providence Harbor.
He agreed to perform the assessment at the request of Attorney
General Patrick C. Lynch, who has been a vocal opponent of the
project. Clarke and the company he heads, Good Harbor Consultants of
Arlington, Va., agreed to do the evaluation for free.
regulators are in the final stages of examining the $100-million project
that would allow the current KeySpan facility to
deliveries of LNG by tanker.
The proposal is opposed by virtually
all of the state's elected officials, including Governor Carcieri, Lynch,
Sen. Jack Reed and
Representatives Patrick J. Kennedy and James
R. Langevin. A number of citizens and environmental groups are fighting
project as well.
Supporters include the Providence
Chamber of Commerce, which issued a statement yesterday offering its
support for the
KeySpan project, as long as "prudent safety and
security protocols" are put into place.
KeySpan issued a statement
yesterday saying that "safety and security are the highest priority" for
the company. It said it is
developing two plans, one for security
and another for safety, "all at the direction of federal and state
"Before the upgraded terminal is allowed to accept
shipments, the appropriate agencies will give final approval to all
emergency response plans," KeySpan said.
Clarke was one of the first government officials to warn the Bush
administration of the threat posed by al-Qaida shortly after Mr.
Bush took office in January 2001. Clarke's warnings were largely
unheeded, he wrote in his book, Against All Enemies, published
during last year's presidential campaign.
In the hours after
the Sept. 11 attacks, Clarke said he instructed the Coast Guard to close
Boston Harbor. He feared that an LNG
tanker coming into Boston
might be another terrorist target.
'Had one of the giant tankers
blown up in the harbor," Clarke wrote in his book, "it would have wiped
out downtown Boston."
Clarke's 150-page report was made public
yesterday at a forum at Brown University's Salomon Center. Lynch presented
that highlighted his opposition to the KeySpan proposal,
and Clarke followed with slides that summarized his findings.
said he looked at three possible scenarios in which a terrorist group
might launch an attack on an LNG tanker in Narragansett
air with a twin engine airplane; by sea with a small boat loaded with
explosives; and by shoreline with anti-tank weapons.
Each of the
three scenarios was plausible, he said. And security measures to try to
prevent these attacks would be impractical.
For example, the 29
miles of shoreline along a tanker's route on the Bay would have to be
secured, Clarke said. That's a total of
58 miles that would have
to be searched before each LNG tanker delivery.
And the security
measures would probably not prevent an attack, he said.
it's entirely possible to blow through the kinds of defenses that can be
The report paints a grim picture of what would happen if
an attack on an LNG tanker was successful in blowing 5-meter holes in
two of the tanks on board the ship in the Providence Harbor.
It estimates that 3,000 people would die instantly. Some 10,000
more would suffer serious burns. The heat would be so intense
the source that firefighters could not get near it to put it out. Trauma
centers would be overwhelmed.
Clarke said that perhaps the
simplest way to avoid the risk of a terrorist attack is to site an LNG
facility in a non-urban area, or
"If there are
alternatives that do not run this risk, why not take them, instead of
creating a new vulnerability that doesn't now
exist?" he said.
Clarke's report also raised concerns about the security at
KeySpan's facility today.
During a March 2005 visit to the
facility, his colleagues were able to enter the KeySpan facility through
an open gate at an
visitors walked through the gate and got within close proximity of the
tank, taking pictures throughout," the
"There were no security officers or KeySpan employees in sight.
This disregard for basic security measures was highly
and raises concerns about the surrounding companies to provide adequate
KeySpan spokeswoman Carmen Fields said the company is
suspicious of these claims.
"We stand by the security of our
property," she said. "We cannot speak intelligently on the security of our