February 12, 2011 / 7:45 AM / 9 years ago

Mexican city tries to close Sempra LNG terminal

TIJUANA, Mexico, Feb 12 (Reuters) - A Mexican city ordered U.S. firm Sempra Energy to shut down its Costa Azul liquefied natural gas terminal, citing saftey concerns, but the company said it was protected by a court order and was operating normally.

Sempra’s terminal in Baja California, northern Mexico, was inaugurated in 2008 and pipes natural gas to local industry as well as across the border to California.

The city of Ensenada said in a statement on Friday it was shutting down the plant temporarily because the company had failed to provide local officials with information for handling emergencies.

Sempra said local police and inspectors placed seals on some of the terminal’s doors, but that a court ruling had ordered the city government not to interfere in its business.

“The terminal is operating normally,” Sempra said in a statement, adding that it had already alerted a district judge to the matter and was evaluating its legal strategy.

The plant was built after similar projects on the U.S. coast never got off the ground amid worries that LNG terminals could hurt wildlife or be a terrorist target.

Environmentalists have charged that Mexico embraced the project because it did not take wildlife concerns seriously. Officials say LNG plants are safe. (Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; writing by Jason Lange in Mexico City; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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