portland independent media center  
images audio video
newswire article coverage oregon & cascadia

corporate dominance | energy & nuclear | environment

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Threatens Oregon

Please submit comments on proposed liquid natural gas development that threatens the coastal community and waters of Coos Bay.

Public comments are due Feb. 10th for the Jordan Cove Energy Development Project Notice of Intent to develop a liquid natural gas receiving terminal.
LNG Tanker
LNG Tanker
On the Web at:  http://www.oregonwaters.org/LNG.htm



LIQUID NATURAL GAS IMPORT TERMINALS PROPOSED IN ASTORIA, ST. HELENS, AND COOS BAY, OREGON.


Please submit comments on proposed liquid natural gas development that threatens the coastal community and waters of Coos Bay.

Public comments are due Feb. 10th for the Jordan Cove Energy Development Project Notice of Intent to develop a liquid natural gas receiving terminal.

Scroll down to see a Sample Comment Letter!


What is LNG?

Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) is natural gas that is generally procured abroad, chilled to -259oF, and shipped at this cooled temperature in tankers 1000 ft in length (approximately the size of an aircraft carrier). Methane is the main constituent of LNG, with an additional small amount of other hydrocarbons. In its liquid state, natural gas is a clear, odorless, nontoxic and non-corrosive substance.

Is LNG Safe?

LNG is non-flammable in its liquid state, but it can rapidly expand into its gaseous form when released from its holding tanks.

1. Particularly in contact with water, LNG will rapidly transition from a liquid to a gas, and this can yield a physical explosion without combustion (California Energy Commission website). Additionally, at concentrations between 5 % and 15% in air, LNG vapor can burn.

2. LNG is capable of causing freeze burns because of its extremely cold temperature. Additionally, exposure to the center of a vapor cloud caused by rapidly re-gasified LNG can cause asphyxiation.

3. The shipping and receiving of LNG requires large exclusion zones for safety in case of accident or terrorist attack. These exclusion zones may not be adequate, according to Fay, to ensure the safety of nearby communities in the case of improbable but catastrophic accidents or attacks. The recently-released report from the Sandia National Laboratories on the risks associated with a possible large spill of LNG effectively undermine industry assertions that LNG is completely safe and cannot burn. Indeed, officials were so worried about the possibility of a terrorist attack on LNG that they shut down the LNG terminal in Boston after 9/11 and during the Democratic National Convention, fearing an attack that would devastate downtown Boston. Each tanker of LNG carries with it an amount of energy comparable to 50 Hiroshima nuclear bombs. Moreover, models indicate that a major failure in storage could cause a fire that would result in burns for people up to a mile away.

Professor James Fay of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has posited in several studies that, were an LNG tanker to be ruptured by an accident or terrorist strike, it could rapidly spread out and float on water creating a pool with an associated vapor cloud directly above it: "Once ignited, as is very likely when the spill is initiated by a chemical explosion, the floating LNG pool will burn vigorously... "


Other LNG Considerations

1. Projected increases in demand for LNG in the U.S., in combination with projected declines in domestic natural gas reserves, are prompting the proposal of new import terminals for LNG in the U.S. Currently, four terminals are operational and forty-nine are proposed or in planning stages throughout the United States ( http://intelligencepress.com/features/lng/terminals/lng_terminals.html)

2. Exclusion zones are necessary for the safe operation of the terminals and tankers, and these areas may disrupt the operation of fishermen, recreationists, and other members of the local community.


The 3 Oregon LNG Proposals:

1. In Astoria, Calpine Corp. has already obtained a lease on 100 acres of property on the Skipanon Peninsula, and intends to develop a $500 million terminal. Calpine obtained the lease from the Port of Astoria without either public officials or the corporation soliciting extensive public input. In Humboldt Bay, CA, Calpine Corp was forced to abandon a proposal to develop a similar LNG terminal due to widespread public displeasure with the proposal and the secretive manner in which Calpine engaged local officials. Many members of the community in and near Astoria are working against Calpine's proposal. (More to come about this issue!)

2. Energy Projects Development LLC (EPD) of Evergreen, Colorado is proposing a $150 million terminal and storage tank on the North Spit of Coos Bay, with projected service in 2009. The project also includes a natural gas power generating facility of less than 25 megawatts. EPD's Notice of Intent to develop an LNG site is currently open for public comment (closes Feb. 10th). See below for information on submitting comments.

3. Port Westward LNG LLC is proposing a terminal in St. Helens, OR, 50 miles upriver from Astoria. This proposal could require the intermittent closure of other shipping and traffic near the enormous tankers as they moved up the Columbia River, and the river channel may need to be deepened to handle the LNG tanker traffic.


Sample Comment Letter:

February X, 2005

Oregon Department of Energy

625 Marion Street NE

Salem, OR 97301-3737


Re: Comments on Energy Projects Development LLC Notice of Intent to Develop an LNG Importation Terminal

To the Energy Facility Siting Council:

I am concerned with a proposal to develop a liquid natural gas (LNG) importation terminal on the North Spit of Coos Bay. The Notice of Intent filed by Energy Projects Development LLC fails to address very serious concerns that may render the project unsafe, inequitable, and environmentally unsound.

I am concerned that the proposed LNG facility will irrevocably alter and harm the environment and the community of Coos Bay. The project on the North Spit will change the character of Coos Bay and many of the surrounding areas (some of which are protected for public and wildlife use), not only because of the facility but also because of the movement of enormous LNG tankers.

It is difficult to imagine that the facility can be constructed and operated in a manner that fails to impact sensitive fish and wildlife species that use Coos Bay. Indeed, if frequent dredging will be necessary to maintain a shipping channel, there may be effects to threatened and endangered species that are present in Coos Bay. The Notice of Intent gave only cursory mention of these possible impacts, and the consultation with relevant agencies should consider the full scope of all impacts that will be generated by the Jordan Cove project, not just the facility itself.

I am also concerned that the impacts to wetlands and soils may be severe and inconsistent with the General Standard under OAR 345 322-0000. Additionally, the pollution impacts of a possible leak could be either very severe, depending on the nature of the spill. The Notice of Intent does not address the capability of the surrounding community, the state, the federal government, or EPD LLC of preventing and mitigating these possible impacts (up to and including a massive explosion and fire).

The Siting Council should, in all facets of the proposed project, consider the possible impacts of the fully operational terminal. This extends beyond the terminal site itself; the possible impacts of the associated LNG tankers and enhancing shipping traffic should also be considered, and are essentially omitted from mention in the Notice of Intent. Furthermore, the Siting Council and EPD LLC should be forthright about the possible security restrictions that may be necessary to prevent accident or terrorist attack at the Jordan Cove facility.

Additionally, the community is unprepared to deal with the possible safety problems that might arise in the instance of a serious accident or a terrorist attack. The Department of Homeland Security has noted the extreme danger that might be presented by the targeting of LNG tankers by terrorists. There is no infrastructure or expertise available in Coos Bay to effectively contain an accidental or terrorist-induced spill and fire of LNG (per OAR 345 022-0110).

The NOI claims that EPD LLC will be able to demonstrate need for LNG in the state of Oregon. The impact will be locally severe in terms of environmental and security concerns, and there is a distinctly inequitable element when we consider that those who bear the risk will not be using the imported LNG. Additionally, the LNG facility, once operational, will employ relatively few people (less than 50).

Ultimately, the public needs to be fully informed about the real risks of this project, and the Siting council must consider all of these risks when making its recommendation regarding the Jordan Cove Project.

Respectfully,



Your Name



About the Siting Process...

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council Give approval to the siting of LNG facilities. The Siting Council is currently accepting comments on the Notice of Intent, recently filed by Energy Projects Development LLC.

The introduction to the Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council's approval criteria says:

"Council standards protect natural resources, ensure public health and safety and protect against adverse environmental impacts. The standards ask three fundamental questions:

Does the applicant have the appropriate abilities to build this energy facility?
Is the site suitable?
Would the facility have adverse impacts on the environment and the community?
Noticeably missing from the criteria, are standards that address the safety, convenience, and economics of the extremely large tankers operating in the area of the facility. The dangers and impacts associated with LNG extend beyond the terminal facility, and the siting process should take the operation of large LNG tankers into account.

The rest of the criteria are available at

 http://egov.oregon.gov/ENERGY/SITING/standards.shtml



For more information contact FLOW at 541-251-3569

homepage: homepage: http://www.oregonwaters.org
phone: phone: 541-251-3569
address: address: P.O. Box 2478, Grants Pass, OR 97528

add a comment on this article

another example of Calpine's deceit 08.Feb.2005 11:55

@ Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake is a volcanic caldera targeted by Calpine for geothermal development. The pristine water's of Medicine Lake would be fouled by hydrogen sulfide, arsenic and other toxins that are now buried deep underground. Calpine's explosions to generate geothermal energy risk bringing these toxins to the surface, contaminating the lake and also the McCloud River near Mt. Shasta..

Many indigenous peoples hold Medicine Lake as sacred for healing and spirituality. Calpine attempted to bribe individual members of the Shasta tribe by offering computers and other needed school supplies if the families would stay away from organized opposition meetings..

Calpine tries to front itself as "green energy", though the green represents money, not ecology. Their startup funding comes from Enron, and Calpine also had a hand in the fabricated CA energy crisis where taxpayers got sold into supporting Calpine's geothermal/LNG proposals..

When Calpine tried to park their supercooled explosive LNG tankers in Humboldt Bay (near the Pacific/American fault line, yeah, that's REALLY safe!!), the community came out to voice their oppostion that two city council meetings went on for hours and everyone didn't get the chance to talk. Only a few obvious pro-development types supported Calpine, majority voiced their concerns about the impacts of the explosion..

Here is limx 2 LNG watch and EPIC, they have info on the battle fought in Humboldt. Ironically, the same week that Calpine backed out of Humboldt Bay, a judge gave Calpine the permit to begin testing for geothermal at Medicine Lake..

 http://lngwatch.com/resources.html



Medicine Lake info;

 http://www.sacredland.org/endangered_sites_pages/medicine_lake.html

 http://www.cascadiarising.org/topic/medlake/

lngwatch.com/resources.html

FUD. 08.Feb.2005 16:13

Bison Boy

The article above is pretty alarmist, and works hard to spin its facts to make LNG sound scary. You know what? Any liquid at -200F is going to cause severe frost burns. Any liquefied gas is going to rapidly "re-gasify" on contact with water, and anything but oxygen will asphyxiate you if you're in the middle of cloud and not already dead from the cold. (With an oxygen cloud, you'd die from other causes, but not asphixyation.) I'm sure there's a tremendous amount of chemical energy tied up in a LNG tanker load, maybe as much as 50 hiroshimas. But it can't explode all at once, unless maybe it collides with a liquified oxygen tanker or two.

The author is working too darn hard to scare people... makes me distrust him.

Plus, if I recall correctly, the area around the north spit in Coos Bay is already an industrial area. A LNG terminal isn't going to make a heck of a lot of difference environmentally. Someone more familiar with the area can maybe correct me on this, I've only seen it once in the last year.

Psst! Bison FUD 08.Feb.2005 20:15

Bill Cody

LNG is a liquified gas.

LNG will behave like "any liquefied gas".

If you wish to dispute that LNG will behave like a liquified gas,
you need to prove it is not a liquified gas.

Ehhh... what? 09.Feb.2005 16:12

Bison Boy

You missed my point. I'm not saying it's not a dangerous substance... I certainly won't be cleaning up a LNG spill with a mop and bucket. But it's only slightly more dangerous than liquid nitrogen or oxygen, which are used industrially all the time, and probably within a mile of you. If there's a major accident, sure it's going to be nasty and destructive nearby... but it's not going to "Threaten Oregon" as a whole. That's fearmongering, and we all have seen what being afraid of phantoms has done for our foreign policy. There is good reason to be a *little* afraid of this, but no reason to be *very* afraid.

I'm just thinking that we might want to keep a little perspective here. A LNG terminal and power plant in Coos Bay, for instance, would offer jobs to a bunch of people who wish they could go back to work in the timber industry. Is that such a bad thing? Give some unemployed guys something to do besides drink and beat their kids? (No offense intended to Coos County... it happens everywhere.)

Sure, the powerplant means we're burning more fossil fuels, and that sucks... but if you want to stop that, you're going to accomplish more by working to reduce demand at the grassroots level than by ensuring this LNG terminal gets sited out of state.

LNG tankers will change the entire coastal port traffic/infrastructure 14.Feb.2005 15:57

Joe Serres, FLOW jserres@optionsonline.org

I do not think the above article is alarmist at all. That article is just a brief overview of threats from LNG tankers and terminals- much more information is to come.

Consider this- how many LNG tankers are currently coming into Oregon ports? ZERO. Does Oregon want to establish themselves as a destination for LNG tankers and establish the infrastructure/tanker traffic that this would enable?

This is a very significant risk, both to the environment, but also to the nature of the Oregon Coast as it is, as this would bring in an entirely new and risky series of tankers to visit Oregon's coast and introduce significant risks.

Creating 50 jobs in Coos Bay may not be as attractive as you think and to simply marginalize poor persons in Coos Bay by thinking that with a "job" their social challenges will end is very naive.

Thanks

add a comment on this article