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