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Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?
6

Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

(OP)
https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/06/03...

Any comments about the validity of these LNG Export Terminal concerns ????

Seems to me as if those old reliable Nuclear Power Plants that run for 40 or 50 years might be worth a second look ....

MJCronin
Sr. Process Engineer

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

I certainly would not argue with these expert adjucations, but if Ted Cruz disagrees, LNG export terminals certainly must be safe. Right?

[quote Havens, the recently retired director of the Chemical Hazards Research Center, is more blunt about the installation of vapor fences.

“It’s really stupid,” he said. “It’s a really bad mistake.”

A 1990 Energy Department study, gathering dust for decades, came to the same conclusion.[/quote]

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

2
It is apparent that much of the opposition to the projects mentioned is completely unrelated to the specific technical issue raised, and is in fact political/Nimbyism, etc.
I think in that case, it is poor writing to try to roll all that into one article.
IE, the article comes across as more of a "Why We Hate LNG Export Facilities" piece than a "This Technical Issue Needs to be Addressed" article. And that makes it difficult to size up the actual hazard based on what is presented.

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

2
It's actually not a bad article, but clearly not a technical discourse.

The point is that that LNG production involves a certain amount of additional hazard compared to just storing imported LNG as you need various other hydrocarbons to do it which are quite volatile. Compared to the tonnage of LNG, it's pretty miniscule, but needs to be added into the safety assessment.

Now the issue being mentioned is a Vapour Cloud Explosion.

Until the Buncefield Explosion several years ago, it was generally assumed that spillage of vapourising HCs in the open couldn't generate a VCE of any great size.

However, in what was probably a unique set of circumstances (cold, misty/foggy day with very little wind), a very large spillage of gasoline left a blanket of gasoline vapour dense enough that when it went bang it went BANG 10 times bigger than the most conservative explosion tool that existed at the time. This explosion was heard many miles away, destroyed buildings 100m away from the perimeter and created a conflagration on the tank farm which took days to put out and destroyed many tanks and facilities. As it was a weekend, thankfully the nearby buildings were not occupied and no one died.

But how do you cope with this is a question no one can answer. You have to combine several things all at the same time - A very large leak of volatile HC plus no wind, plus a certain area in which to partly confine the vapour cloud. Any one not happening at the same time, no explosion.

Now the probability of that happening is very very low, so even though the resultant super large BANG can be very significant, the overall risk comes into the "tolerable" level. For any one plant the chance of it happening are very low, but add lots of plants around the world (say 100) into the matrix and yes, eventually one of them will go BANG. But the other 99 will live out their operating life with no BANG.

That's the price we pay for transporting volatile substances all around the world in absolutely huge volumes every year. Very few go bang. You can't eliminate risk other than not doing something. Just like the airline industry essentially accepts that every now and then one the planes will fall out of the sky and kill everyone on board, it happens so infrequently that it becomes an acceptable risk for most of the population. The alternatives have even greater risk. People get killed crossing the road, cars and motorcycles crash, ships sink. but they are all so rare that the overall risk is accepted.

The same applies to LNG plants. It all depends on your level of acceptable / tolerable risk. Everyone has a different view, but the government authorities generally set that risk at a certain level so that development and economic activity isn't unnecessarily constrained.

So are the concerns valid?
Yes, but IMHO, not enough to cause anything to change.
Creating and storing LNG is a hazardous activity.
Just don't live or work next to one would be my advice....

Remember - More details = better answers
Also: If you get a response it's polite to respond to it.

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

Quote (LittleInch)

...So are the concerns valid?
Yes, but IMHO, not enough to cause anything to change.
Creating and storing LNG is a hazardous activity.
Just don't live or work next to one would be my advice....

Good advice- but until the operators of LNG and similar facilities that sometimes go "BOOM" are required maintain
an adequate vacant buffer zone around the operation that isn't going to happen. There are too many forces that
will whine about the lost money-making potential of the vacant area.

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

Good advice, however the last point of the article was the Port Isabel mayor's message. They put these in areas that want to have the choice not to live next to one, or two in this case, but do not have the political power to secure their right to that choice. Its the fat cats in Houston River Oaks that get all the advantages and Port Isabel shrimpers take all the risk, which probably is not being evaluated correctly. The DOE study and a few others appear to agree.

Personally I'd rather risk the chance of a volcano forming in my back yard, rather than live next to a Buncefield/LNG/Bophal/or even a town border station- https://youtu.be/npLhAllpLag
or whatever. Why would a simple town border station do that? Is anything really safe enough to live next to these days?

And this is just a small gas plant.
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=UdEqC5oMdrI

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

Nonsense articles like this are the reason so many have lost faith in both mainstream media and govt regulation - self-professed "experts" publicly violating ethical obligations, one-sided politics, and a sprinkling of hysteria over environmental and public safety concerns to push regulation by other "experts" who need a few years to determine if a problem actually exists.

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

Reminds me of that garbage china syndrome movie where literally guy says "this is going to happen", creates fear for no reason. The thing breaks, he is half right. But no harm is done. Theres no news story if stuff aint exploding. Got to always stoke fear.

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

Fear can be used to ensure no shortcuts are taken, but it typically is used to obtain public acceptance of more regulation.

The failure of the binary refrigerant working fluids is a real issue at LNG export terminals, as demonstrated by the failure of the aluminum heat exchangers at an australian facility 10 yrs ago, due to corrosion from mercury contamination from the raw gas.In that case the main damage was financial catastrophe, due to lost contracts and lawsuits over promised deliveries. There also exists a tiny (but real) risk of terrorist activity, as they have new tools to cause problems which cannot be easily overcome ( drones, laser guided precision munitions, etc.).

In my opinion the main issue with increased use of LNG is related to LNG powered trucks- they could theoretically cause immense damage if an accidental release of LNG occurs within city limits or near a critical structure. They probably should not travel thru the Lincoln tunnel, for example. Just recall the damage that occurred to the US marine barracks in Beirut Lebanon in 1983, due to 2 or 3 cylinders of butane. Likewise, Teslas should not be allowed to park in underground garages alongside the building support pillars, but we are unlikely to see such a prohibition until after a major accident .

"...when logic, and proportion, have fallen, sloppy dead..." Grace Slick

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

"This is going to happen"

He was dead right, It did. More than once as well. just not then and there and not just with nuclear power.

If you build something in public, the public has the right to ask that is be reasonably safe. In this case, there are some doubts that need to be answered. Is that a problem?

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

This is one of those things where it's impossible to properly mitigate the effects of an incident if it happens, if you're building your terminal anywhere near any useful land. So efforts need to go into preventing it from happening. Better detection of leaks of the heavy hydrocarbons seems like the obvious way to do that. There's no danger until a leak gets really big, and that means it needs to go undetected for a long time - so improve detection and you make it safe.

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

That's a good start.

RE: Engineers raise alarms over the risk of major explosions at LNG plants - Comments ?

I think trucking LNG is far more likely to cost lives than ocean transport terminals, but I agree the terminals can make a bigger bang.
2 Injured as LNG Tanker Leaks Cause Fire on Beijing–Harbin Expressway Feb 11, 2018. Video shows ignition of a large ground hugging cloud of dense vapor, there may have been enough liquid released to cool down a rather long section of ditch.

The same thing can happen with a gasoline tanker. I have seen the soot scars from a gasoline tanker wreck that started on a section of concrete highway having a curb, the soot stains and heat spalled concrete ran almost 1/4 mile, and are still visible 15 years later.


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