Ja­panese les­son

His­tory hints LNG is not as safe as its back­ers would have us think

Townsville Bulletin - - Voice Of The North - opin­ion Paul Tooker, Glad­stone

IT is top­i­cal, in view of the tragedy in Ja­pan, to dis­cuss the con­se­quences of a worst case sce­nario LNG catas­tro­phe in the Port of Glad­stone.

The LNG in­dus­try has a his­tory of mi­nor ( and not so mi­nor) in­ci­dents, which to date have not es­ca­lated to a worst case sce­nario.

How­ever, the his­tory of LNG ship­ping and plant in­ci­dents in­di­cates that the in­dus­try is not as safe as its pro­po­nents would have the pub­lic be­lieve.

In sim­ple terms, a worst case sce­nario LNG ship­ping catas­tro­phe in the ship­ping chan­nel ad­ja­cent to Glad­stone would gen­er­ate an in­cred­i­bly hot pool fire and en­gulf a large part of Glad­stone, killing or in­jur­ing thou­sands if not tens of thou­sands of Glad­stone res­i­dents.

For those peo­ple who seek more fact, I com­mend them to the work of the US Gov­ern­ment which iden­ti­fied a worst case sce­nario LNG pool fire could ex­tend seven miles ( 11.2kms) from source.

I also com­mend them to the con­se­quences of a ma­jor LNG leak in Cleve­land Ohio in 1944, which killed over 100 peo­ple in the en­su­ing pool fire ( the quan­ti­ties of LNG in­volved in that in­ci­dent would be dwarfed by the con­tents of a sin­gle mod­ern LNG ves­sel) – the fire associated with this in­ci­dent was re­ported as reach­ing a height of 853 me­tres.

For those who say a worst case sce­nario LNG catas­tro­phe will never hap­pen in Glad­stone har­bour, I can only say that I hope you are right.

The poor peo­ple of Ja­pan also hoped they were right.

If a worst case sce­nario LNG catas­tro­phe did hap­pen in Glad­stone, no doubt a Royal Com­mis­sion would iden­tify who in Gov­ern­ment and in­dus­try had blood on their hands. This would be cold com­fort to the sur­vivors and rel­a­tives of peo­ple killed and in­jured in the LNG catas­tro­phe.

The po­ten­tial for a worst case sce­nario LNG catas­tro­phe is a new and un­nec­es­sary risk that is be­ing in­tro­duced to Glad­stone.

Do the res­i­dents of Glad­stone re­ally need this new risk, or should the LNG plants and ship­ping be re­lo­cated to an area where a worst case sce­nario LNG catas­tro­phe would not dev­as­tate a ma­jor ur­ban cen­tre?

PO­TEN­TIAL CATAS­TRO­PHE: The Ja­panese disas­ter has raised con­cerns about LNG ship­ments through the Port of Glad­stone

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