Boston mayor wants to block Yemeni tankers from Boston Harbor

Published 4 January 2010

Yemen is disintegrating, and jihadists are moving in; the mayor of Boston says it is unsafe to allow tankers delivering liquefied natural gas from Yemen into Boston Harbor; “They cannot be coming into a harbor like Boston, where there is less than 50 feet between the tankers and residential areas,’ the mayor says of Yemeni tankers’

Mayor Thomas Menino said last Thursday that he will ask Boston’s lawyers to see whether the city can block Yemeni tankers from delivering liquefied natural gas into Boston Harbor, calling such deliveries “wrong.’’ “We’re in extraordinary times that call for extraordinary measures to ensure the safety of our city,’’ the mayor said in an interview. “They cannot be coming into a harbor like Boston, where there is less than 50 feet between the tankers and residential areas.’’

Menino and several other public officials said they would press for the tankers’ cargo — destined for an LNG terminal in Everett as soon as next month — instead to be unloaded away from the city, in light of the failed Christmas Day attempt by a Nigerian man, who trained in Yemen, to blow up a U.S. airliner over Detroit.

Boston lobe’s Andrea Estes writes that House Speaker Robert DeLeo, who had called the plan to bring in the tankers “a matter of grave concern,’’ said he would contact the state’s top public safety official — Kevin Burke, the secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety — to look for ways to halt the deliveries.

The Globe reported last week that shipments of liquefied natural gas from Yemen are scheduled to arrive for the first time in Boston as early as February. Coast Guard officials are reviewing the plan and said yesterday they have not yet decided whether the shipments will be allowed to enter the harbor and dock at the LNG terminal in Everett.

“Their paramount concern is the safety and security of the Port of Boston,’’ Coast Guard spokesman Jeff Hall said of the security team reviewing the plans.

Estes writes that concerns among Menino and other local officials have intensified since the failed plot last week, which renewed fears that Yemen has become a haven and training ground for extremists. “They need to seriously look at offloading those ships in the outer harbor,’’ said John Leo McKinnon, an Everett city councilor and chairman of the city’s public safety committee. “If we’re going to be taking in ships from Yemen, a known terror site, we have to make sure people feel comfortable.’’

In addition to the Christmas Day episode, McKinnon cited the 2000 bombing of the USS Cole in the southern Yemeni port of Aden. Seventeen American sailors were killed in that attack. “These two incidents should make people more edgy,’’ he said.

State Representative Eugene O’Flaherty,