Blast at U.S. LNG site casts spot­light on nat­u­ral gas safety

Daily Trust - - WORLD -

cities in­creas­ingly re­liant on the clean-burn­ing fuel. At least a dozen new U.S. LNG ex­port fa­cil­i­ties are seek­ing govern­ment ap­proval, and some have faced op­po­si­tion on safety grounds.

Early Mon­day, a “pro­cess­ing ves­sel” at the Wil­liams fa­cil­ity near the small town of Ply­mouth, Wash­ing­ton, ex­ploded, spray­ing chunks of shrap­nel as heavy as 250 pounds as far as 300 yards, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal emer­gency re­spon­ders.

The fly­ing de­bris pierced the dou­ble walls of a 134-foot LNG tank on site, caus­ing leaks. Five work­ers were in­jured, and lo­cal re­spon­ders warned that va­pors from the leaks could trig­ger a more dev­as­tat­ing, sec­ond ex­plo­sion. A county fire depart­ment spokesman said au­thor­i­ties were con­cerned a sec­ond blast could level a 0.75 mile “lethal zone” around the plant. Ev­ery­one within a two-mile ra­dius of the site was evac­u­ated, and a bomb-squad ro­bot was de­ployed to snap pho­tos of the dam­aged tank to avoid putting work­ers at fur­ther risk. Some who did ap­proach were re­port­edly sick­ened by fumes.

By late Tues­day res­i­dents were al­lowed to re­turn and re­spon­ders said the risk of a sec­ondary ex­plo­sion had been averted. Wil­liams is in­ves­ti­gat­ing the in­ci­dent along­side govern­ment agencies. What caused the ex­plo­sion is not clear.

Reuters

A line of trucks car­ry­ing wa­ter to Nat­u­ral gas rigs make their way across the sprawl­ing net­work of two lane roads be­tween small towns to make al­most con­stant de­liv­er­ies to con­tinue the hy­draulic frac­tur­ing process used to gather nat­u­ral gas in Mon­roe­ton, Penn­syl­va­nia, Jan­uary 13, 2013.

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