Everett Settles In With Its Big, New Neighbor In The Harbor

Every day, Chris Shoch walks her dogs at a park along the waterfront of Boston Harbor in Everett, a few hundred yards from a docked LNG tanker from Yemen. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

Every day, Chris Shoch walks her dogs at a park along the waterfront of Boston Harbor in Everett, a few hundred yards from a docked LNG tanker from Yemen. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

EVERETT, Mass. — People who live here, along the waterfront in view of the Tobin Bridge, are trying to get used to the enormous new neighbor in Boston Harbor — a 935-foot tanker carrying liquefied natural gas from Yemen. The ship arrived under heavy security early Tuesday morning, but now it rests there, quiet.

“Honestly, it’s not just a threat to this park, it’s a threat to this entire area,” said Chris Shoch, who lives around the corner in Chelsea and walks her dogs at the park on the waterfront nearly every day. “Boston’s right there.”

The tanker carried the first of a number of shipments of LNG from Yemen since the Coast Guard approved the deliveries earlier this month, despite the protests of Mayor Thomas Menino and other local officials.

The Yemeni tanker is moored a few hundred yards away from a waterfront park in Everett. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

Shoch said she feels helpless knowing that Menino opposes the tankers’ presence in Boston Harbor, and yet they’re arriving here anyway.

“Anything could happen, I don’t know what it would take, but I’m sure it wouldn’t take a lot,” Shoch said Tuesday.

The Yemeni tanker is certainly not the first LNG tanker to arrive safely in Boston Harbor — these vessels have come and gone for decades. And they have always made Shoch somewhat uneasy.

“If it’s from Yemen or if it’s from Jersey, like, somebody could infiltrate whatever system that they’re trying to,” she said. “If there are terrorists that hate us, they’re going to hate us no matter where they’re from and they’ll do what they want to do — or they’ll try.”

Shoch’s friend, Emily Flohre, also of Chelsea, had heard the “hype” surrounding the tankers, but she was surprised to learn that one of them was the big ship docked just a few hundred yards from where she stood. “No idea that they were coming so soon,” she said.

Flohre thinks much of the controversy around the tankers stems from the attempted Christmas Day bombing of a Detroit-bound plane. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the young Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up the plane, traveled twice in recent years to Yemen, a country with a growing reputation as a haven for terrorists.

Michael Shiner, a supervisor at a junk-metal disposal company in Everett, doesn't trust the government's assurance that LNG deliveries from Yemen are safe. (Andrew Phelps/WBUR)

“I don’t think it would have been as big (of a deal) if that wouldn’t have happened,” Flohre said. “I’m a bit concerned, but I think it doesn’t necessarily have to come from a place like that if something’s going to happen.”

Up the street from the park, at Scrap It, a junk-metal disposal company, supervisor Michael Shiner, of Wakefield, was unaware of the story behind the tanker moored a few blocks from his workplace.

“How do we know they’re not sending over just a bomb to blow us up,” he asked, when told of its significance. “You know?”

As far as Shiner had known, this was just another tanker like the ones that come into the harbor all the time to pick up his scrap iron and take it overseas. “That’s the whole process and basis of us making money,” he said.

But this tanker was allowed in to Boston Harbor only after a yearlong review of LNG deliveries from Yemen by the U.S. Coast Guard. Massachusetts State Police and Boston Police escorted the tanker into the harbor. The Coast Guard said it put in extra security measures for the tanker because of Yemen’s strong ties to al-Qaida, including boarding the tanker out at sea to inspect it for proper documentation and possible stowaways.

“I don’t believe that anything’s safe that the government says,” Shiner said. “Because there’s so many lies and stuff out there that if everything’s supposed to be safe, why do all these things still happen? If everything’s safe, why did 9/11 happen? If everything’s safe, how do these people still get on planes and stuff?”

Menino and Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo have pushed for an offshore terminal that would let the tankers offload their cargo without entering the heavily populated inner harbor. Federal officials rejected the idea, but Menino says he will keep fighting to block the vessels.

“What bigger of a place to hit, besides New York, than Boston?” Shiner said.

But for Shoch and Flohre, out walking their dogs against the backdrop of the tanker, the perceived threat isn’t enough to change their daily routine. They said they’ll keep coming to the park every day, the same as always.

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  • Ray Clark

    My comment to the writer of this article is: Please do diligent research as one is expected to do when writing for publication.
    LNG has been a fact of life in the Boston area since the 60′s and shipments to the Chelsea terminal since the 70′s. NO NEW NEIGHBOR THERE ! The only difference is that between the terrorist threat/politico’s it’s been brought to the forefront.
    The article headline/gist of the story only speaks to the lack of education/misconceptions by the general public and the writer in my opinion.

  • EIO Boston

    I am sorry but this article feeds ignaorance and hysteria. The writer and the Boston Glde editors could do better.

  • Mark

    Can’t be afraid of everything, people. If something’s going happen, it’s going to happen. Terrorists could smuggle nuclear material in one of the millions of containers received from overseas each year. There’s no outcry over those containers, though. It’s not scary enough for the media to “make you aware” of it.

  • Will

    Ridiculous article interviewing a bunch of folks with no knowledge and credibility on the subject. “How do we know they’re not sending over just a bomb to blow us up,” he asked, when told of its significance. “You know?” (Says the Scrap metal worker.) Lisa’s next article will be about the end of the world in 2012 as seen through the views of a high school Janitor.

  • http://thisweekinnuclear.com John Wheeler

    I would be less worried about an explosion and more worried about our growing reliance on fossil fuel energy supplies from places like Yemem. The Natural Gas lobby wants us to believe they supply a clean, home grown energy source but in reality this is another drain of American jobs and dollars. Its even more disturbing that Yemen is a source of terrorists, and the location of the attack on the USS Cole in 2000 that killed 17 Americans and injured 39.

    We should be spending our money to develop domestic energy sources like wind, solar, and nuclear.

    John Wheeler
    Producer, “This Week in Nuclear”

  • Mark

    Here is an idea,

    Why in gods name would we not build a offshore terminal in the outer harbor! One single cessna citation packed with Ammonium Nitrate will put on one hell of a show! “Oh the humanity”

    Call your congressmen!

    I hope they make sure they put extra NO FUMAR signs over there under the Tobin!

  • Mark

    Boy it sure is great to see all the “intellegent” people comment here.

    It sure must be nice being above everyone, have you done the research?

    P.S. It’s not spreading “fear” or “hysteria” it’s a fact, it’s a floating bomb! FACT

  • wdiaz

    Yes, its depressing to read viewers’ comments and wonder the naivety and one thinking level of responses. When I read some of these articles which lack journalistic integrity, I turned off the comments sections, only to be further disappointed by the entrenched one thinking of the interviewees in the body of articles as well for example, the guy in the piece in question, who kept on mentioning that he does not trust the government whatever precautions it takes to provide security. It is the same type of mentality that is applied to some issues in the nation regarding governments’ policies – just dumbdown and lack of education, yet they influence policies.

    America does not recognize intelligence, it only promotes stupidity and mediocrity as shown by many of the comments including the respondents in the article.

  • jb

    usa government has sold out usa legal citizens.its only gonna get worse,folks.wake up and smell the coffee.

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