Coos Bay, Oregon, residents told to prepare for LNG workers

COOS BAY, Ore. — The company behind a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay is telling residents to get ready for a potential influx of hundreds of construction workers — and their paychecks.

Chuck Deister, labor liaison and lobbyist for the Jordan Cove Energy Project, told the Bay Area Chamber of Commerce last week that officials are making plans to minimize the impacts on traffic and housing, the Coos Bay World reported.

At the peak of construction, an estimated 2,100 people will be working on the liquefied natural gas facility and another 1,400 on a related pipeline. They are expected to generate millions of dollars in additional spending in the southwestern Oregon county.

“It sounds like we could get squashed in all this if we’re not prepared,” a woman called out during the chamber luncheon. “Are we behind the curve preparing for this?”

The short answer, Deister said, is “no.”

“But we want you to start thinking now,” Deister said. “You won’t see the bulk of the workers until 2016 or 2017. You’re going to have some time to get used to it.”

Project officials expect to receive the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s draft environmental impact statement soon, clearing a big regulatory hurdle.

About 32 percent of Jordan Cove’s workforce will come from the South Coast, according to discussions with local labor unions, Deister said. The rest will be pulled from throughout the Pacific Northwest.

A workforce camp under construction will prevent workers from inundating the local housing market, and as many as 25 percent are expected to bring their own recreational vehicles or fifth wheels, Deister said. Workers are not expected to bring children and swell the school system.

To minimize traffic impacts on Highway 101, buses will take workers from the housing camp to the worksite. The company is also looking at water taxis and buying passenger rail cars to use on the rail line.

Once the facility is up and running, 150 people will have permanent jobs at the terminal and pipeline. Their average annual wage is expected to be $75,000 to $80,000, plus benefits.

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