Dozens of re­ports and thou­sands of pages but no men­tion of fire­works

‘Prob­a­bil­ity of LNG tanker col­li­sion low, of tank rup­ture even lower’

Malta Independent - - FRONT PAGE - Neil Camil­leri

Sev­eral re­ports re­lated to the De­li­mara gas-fired power sta­tion project were pub­lished yes­ter­day but in more than 15,000 pages there is only one men­tion of fire­works, which hap­pens to be in a glos­sary.

The much awaited re­ports were pub­lished yes­ter­day by the En­vi­ron­ment and Re­sources Author­ity. They in­clude risk as­sess­ment and mar­itime im­pact stud­ies com­mis­sioned by Elec­tro­gas – the con­sor­tium be­hind the gas project.

Some of the re­ports go into great de­tail on the haz­ards that can af­fect the power plant – such as light­ing strikes, earth­quakes, soil sub­si­dence, port op­er­a­tions, air­craft crashes and ter­ror­ism but festa fire­works in the vicin­ity were ap­par­ently not deemed to be dan­ger­ous. One of the re­ports men­tions py­rotech­nics as a source of ig­ni­tion in its glos­sary but there is no fur­ther ref­er­ence to fire­works in the other 300 or so pages.

Only last July four men were in­jured in a large fire­works ex­plo­sion that took place not far from the power sta­tion. In 2014 this pa­per had tried to es­tab­lish whether fire­works would be per­mit­ted af­ter the con­struc­tion of the power sta­tion but the ‘com­pe­tent’ au­thor­i­ties all passed the buck with­out giv­ing a clear an­swer.

Safety mea­sures in place

The re­ports pub­lished yes­ter­day also state that the Elec­tro­gas project fea­tures all ma­jor safety and pre­ven­tion mea­sures, such as Emer­gency Shut-Down Sys­tems, Gas and Fire De­tec­tion Sys­tems and Fire Fight­ing Sys­tems. There are also emer­gency re­sponse

plans that cover dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios, rang­ing from a ve­hi­cle col­li­sion in­side the power sta­tion com­pound to a large-scale re­lease of gas. Some of the emer­gency pro­to­cols were drawn up with the au­thor­i­ties, in­clud­ing the Civil Pro­tec­tion Depart­ment.

The drills for some par­tic­u­lar sce­nar­ios, which in­clude in­ci­dents on the FSU and the jetty, a ship-to-ship col­li­sion, bomb threats and the dis­cov­ery of an ex­plo­sive de­vice and a ‘breach of site se­cu­rity’ are con­fi­den­tial and the rel­e­vant parts have been omit­ted from the pub­lished re­ports.

Risk of col­li­sion next to im­pos­si­ble

Apart from the risk as­sess­ment stud­ies, the ERA has also pub­lished the Nau­ti­cal Risk As­sess­ment Study, which says that the prob­a­bil­ity that that Float­ing Stor­age Unit and the LNG Car­ri­ers in­side Marsaxlokk port are in­volved in a col­li­sion is very low and the prob­a­bil­ity that such a col­li­sion will lead to a gas tank rup­ture is even lower.

This par­tic­u­lar re­port was drawn up by Mar­itime Re­search In­sti­tute Nether­lands (MARIN).

The study fo­cuses on dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that the LNG car­ri­ers, which are ex­pected to make 12 en­tries into the port each year to sup­ply the Float­ing Stor­age Unit, are in­volved in a col­li­sion with an­other ves­sel or run aground in­side the har­bour.

It found that the to­tal ex­pected num­ber of col­li­sions when the LNG car­rier is sail­ing is ‘once ev­ery 71,866 years. When next to a pi­lot boat and a re­stricted area (around the ves­sel) is im­posed the to­tal ex­pected num­ber of col­li­sions will be once in 718,657 years.

The ex­ten­sive study, which took many fac­tors and con­sid­er­a­tions into ac­count, also found that the prob­a­bil­ity that the LNG car­rier be­comes grounded (specif­i­cally in the area near the Freeport break­wa­ter) is once ev­ery 92,081 years.

“The prob­a­bil­ity of loss of cargo due to ground­ing is as­sumed to be neg­li­gi­ble.”

The prob­a­bil­ity that the LNG car­rier is hit by an­other ves­sel while it is berthed along­side the FSU is also low. The prob­a­bil­ity will be low­ered fur­ther if other ships are not al­lowed to visit the re­fu­elling dol­phin and the power sta­tion dur­ing this time (around 24 hours).

The prob­a­bil­ity that the FSU is hit by a pass­ing ves­sel when not re­fu­elling (when there is no LNG car­rier along­side) is much higher – one in 264 years. The prob­a­bil­ity is larger for the fact that the FSU will be berthed near the power sta­tion all year round.

The MARIN study also looked at the pos­si­bil­ity of a col­li­sion lead­ing to a rup­ture in the LNG tanks of ei­ther the car­rier or the FSU.

“Sev­eral col­li­sion sce­nar­ios may re­sult in a hole in the outer shell of the LNG car­rier but only 2 of the cal­cu­lated col­li­sion cases lead to a hole in the in­ner shell.”

2,600 ships en­tered Marsaxlokk in 2013

“In spite of a larger col­li­sion prob­a­bil­ity com­pared to other con­sid­ered sce­nar­ios, the prob­a­bil­ity of a hole in the cargo tank of the moored FSU or the moored LNG car­rier can be con­sid­ered as neg­li­gi­ble, tak­ing into ac­count the traf­fic data­base and the as­sump­tions of the speed of the other traf­fic. This is mainly due to the fact that the speed of other traf­fic in port is rel­a­tively low.”

The re­port states that some 2,600 ships en­tered Marsaxlokk in 2013 – in­clud­ing 1,920 con­tainer ships and 417 dou­ble hull tankers. It says that smaller fish­ing ves­sels would not do any sig­nif­i­cant dam­age if in­volved in a col­li­sion.

The study con­cludes that the prob­a­bil­ity of tank pen­e­tra­tion af­ter a col­li­sion with a sail­ing LNG car­rier is low.

“It can, how­ever, be re­duced by im­pos­ing a speed limit in the area, or a re­stric­tion of ves­sels sail­ing in port while the LNG car­rier is ar­riv­ing or de­part­ing. The prob­a­bil­ity that the cargo tank of the LNG car­rier is dam­aged due to ground­ing is neg­li­gi­ble. The prob­a­bil­ity that the cargo tank of the FSU is pen­e­trated is ex­tremely low. The prob­a­bil­ity that the cargo tank of the LNG car­rier is pen­e­trated when be­ing moored at or ma­noeu­vring near the ter­mi­nal is low com­pared to other projects.”

This is prob­a­bly the first men­tion that ‘re­stric­tions’ will have to be put in place dur­ing re­fu­elling op­er­a­tions. The ques­tion of whether fish­ing boats will be af­fected had so far never been an­swered.

Re­ports too de­tailed, PN wants more time

Other re­ports pub­lished yes­ter­day in­clude a wave pen­e­tra­tion study, a study on the ma­noeu­vres ex­pected by the LNG car­rier in Marsaxlokk and a re­port on the FSU’s storm moor­ing sys­tem and how it re­acts un­der dif­fer­ent wave pat­terns. The lat­ter lacks a clear con­clu­sion on the suit­abil­ity of the moor­ing sys­tem.

Other re­ports map out sev­eral hun­dred ac­ci­dent sce­nar­ios, such as small and large gas leaks on board the FSU or at the re­gasi­fi­ca­tion unit and their pos­si­ble con­se­quences, which in­clude flash fires, vapour cloud ex­plo­sions and jet fires.

The dif­fer­ent sce­nar­ios are clas­si­fied ac­cord­ing to the like­li­hood of them oc­cur­ring but the data is very com­plex and dif­fi­cult to read with­out pro­fes­sional guid­ance and a gen­er­ous amount of time. It is safe to say, in fact, that most of the doc­u­ments will hardly mean any­thing to the pub­lic un­less sim­pler ex­pla­na­tions are pro­vided.

Be­cause of this, Op­po­si­tion Leader Si­mon Busut­til yes­ter­day wrote to the chair­man of the En­vi­ron­ment and Re­sources Author­ity, Prof. Vic­tor As­ciak, re­quest­ing an ex­ten­sion to the pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion pe­riod of 30 days.

The Op­po­si­tion said the 30-day pe­riod which started yes­ter­day is not enough to an­a­lyse the 15,000 pages pub­lished yes­ter­day.

The ex­ten­sive study, which took many fac­tors and con­sid­er­a­tions into ac­count, also found that the prob­a­bil­ity that the LNG car­rier be­comes grounded (specif­i­cally in the area near the Freeport break­wa­ter) is once ev­ery 92,081 years. Other re­ports map out sev­eral hun­dred ac­ci­dent sce­nar­ios, such as small and large gas leaks on board the FSU or at the re­gasi­fi­ca­tion unit and their pos­si­ble con­se­quences, which in­clude flash fires, vapour cloud ex­plo­sions and jet fires.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.