Nearly 200 residents packed the Point Loma Library on the evening of September 9 to discuss a city-approved methane-gas-recycling project that has elicited concern, anger, and fear among those living in the coastal community.
The project, slated to begin in 2010, involves the trucking of compressed natural gas from the Point Loma Wastewater Facility to two other sites, where it would be utilized to supply renewable energy. The 45-foot, 38-ton trucks would travel along residential surface streets (Catalina and Chatsworth boulevards, as well as Rosecrans Street) six times per night, seven days a week, between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
District two councilman Kevin Faulconer, who hosted the meeting, began by announcing a new development: SDG&E and Biofuels Energy, the private company heading the project, have agreed to examine the possibility of injecting the gas directly into SDG&E’s existing fuel lines instead of transporting the gas.
Faulconer credited Point Loma residents for the recent turn of events. “We wouldn’t have gotten there without community support — a lot of pressure, a lot of pushing,” he said.
John Pedersen, a resident who went door to door for weeks to raise awareness of the trucking issue, stood before the crowd and voiced his concerns. “If there is an accident that explodes the truck, it has the potential to take out a square mile of homes and the people sleeping in them at night,” he said. He explained that residents are in favor of the utilization of the excess methane gas for renewable energy and only opposed to the trucking of the gas.
During the question-and-answer portion of the meeting, Ahmad Solomon from SDG&E and Frank Mazanec from BioFuels Energy answered 19 questions from the audience. “How long will it take to determine whether or not the plan to inject the gas directly into the lines is feasible, and will trucks be trucking in the interim?” asked one resident. “No!” shouted a number of residents. “No trucking!”
Before the meeting was adjourned, Pedersen praised Councilman Faulconer. “Thank you to Kevin for putting this together. Kevin was under a lot of pressure not to hold this meeting at this point, so he took a very brave leadership position, and for that I will be eternally grateful, and I think you will be as well,” he told the crowd.
The analysis to determine the impact of injecting the methane gas directly into SDG&E’s fuel lines is expected to take about two months, upon which a proposal will be sent to the city.
Although optimistic, Pedersen believes that residents need to remain alert. “Trucking is not off the table here. I just want everybody to understand that we have to be vigilant with the whole process, and that we demand that trucking be taken off this project,” said Pedersen, whose comment was met by loud cheers and applause.