GAO publishes LNG safety study
Near the end of the movie Syriana, terrorists pilot a boat with a missile into an LNG tanker. This sort of scenario has worried many people living in Boston or other areas with existing or planned gas terminals.
The U.S. General Accounting Office has recently released a brief study entitled, “Public Safety Consequences of a Terrorist Attack on a Tanker Carrying Liquefied Natural Gas Need Clarification.”
The review found varying estimates at which 30 seconds of exposure from a fire from an LNG spill could burn people — from less than a third of a mile to one and a quarter mile.
Federal agencies use an estimate of one mile from Sandia National Laboratories to assess proposals for new LNG import terminals.
GAO said three studies that considered LNG explosions concluded explosions were unlikely unless the LNG vapors were in a confined space.
The report notes LNG, which today accounts for only 3 percent of total U.S. natural gas supply, is expected to climb to 17 percent by 2030, according to the Department of Energy.
Concerns about whether LNG tankers could become terrorist targets, causing the LNG cargo to spill and catch on fire and potentially explode, have lead the DOE to fund a study that is expected to be completed next year.
The GAO recommended that the Secretary of Energy incorporate key issues identified by its expert panel.
Meanwhile, the U.S. House of Representatives’ Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation will hold a field hearing in Baltimore April 23 to look at “Safety and Security of Liquefied Natural Gas and the Impact on Port Operations.”