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LNG Liquefied Natural Gas

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Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is natural gas (predominantly methane, CH4) that has been converted to liquid form for ease of storage or transport. It takes up about 1/600th the volume of natural gas in the gaseous state. It is odorless, colorless, non-toxic and non-corrosive. Hazards include flammability after vaporization into a gaseous state, freezing and asphyxia. The liquefaction process involves removal of certain components, such as dust, acid gases, helium, water, and heavy hydrocarbons, which could cause difficulty downstream. The natural gas is then condensed into a liquid at close to atmospheric pressure by cooling it to approximately −162 °C (−260 °F); maximum transport pressure is set at around 25 kPa (4 psi).-Wikipedia

 

LNG: Not So “Natural” Gas In Tacoma

What is the Tacoma LNG project?

Tenant:

Puget Sound Energy (PSE), a PRIVATE investment arm of Australia’s Macquarie Group

Proposal:

A $275 million LNG facility at the Port of Tacoma (Alexander Ave E).

Facility:

The 18-story LNG facility will produce, store and distribute natural gas.

LNG production projection:

87 million gallons per year with 24/7 operation

Infrastructure needed:

Five miles of new pipeline through the City of Fife and unincorporated Pierce County

PSE’s job projections:

250 temporary construction jobs and 18 permanent jobs.

Natural gas source:

Apparently fracked gas from Canada or the Rocky Mountains.3

The Tacoma LNG Project Timeline

August 2014: Port of Tacoma approved a property lease.
November 2015: City of Tacoma issued FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement).
December 2015: The Puyallup Tribe filed a lawsuit.
Early 2019: PSE’s expected completion/production date

 

“The Project would be one of the nation’s first marine vessel bunkering facilities, with on-site LNG liquefaction and storage (bunkering) at the Port of Tacoma.”4

 

What is Natural Gas/Liquefied Natural Gas?

Natural gas is a fossil fuel predominantly composed of methane. It is found deep underground in rock formations.1 Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is natural gas that has been converted to liquid by cooling it to -260 degrees F. This is advantageous because LNG then takes up 1/600th the volume of natural gas making it easier to store and transport.2

Why does PSE want this?

According to the FEIS (Final Environmental Impact Statement):

• To fuel ships that run on natural gas
(for two Tote ships that will make a weekly
round trip from Tacoma to Alaska);

• To sell LNG to “other industry merchants”
(it is unclear what this means exactly); and

• To operate as a peak shaving facility.

Peak-shaving facilities allow gas companies to purchase LNG when demand and prices are lower and store it for sale when demand is high. Customers are still charged the same high “peak” price, thus providing high profits to the gas company.10 Peak-shaving plants are typically small plants that do not operate continuously throughout the year.5

What does PSE have to hide?

Although PSE has said LNG is safe, when a citizen filed a public information request that would reveal the safety risks, PSE filed an injunction to prevent public disclosure.9

What are the risks?

Potential breaches at an LNG facility could result in significant destruction of property, bodily harm and loss of life.

Natural gas is combustible. LNG is not explosive in its liquid form. However, if it’s spilled it can evaporate, forming a vapor cloud, which can ignite and burn.6

Accidents and/or malfeasance in operating could have catastrophic effects. This poses an obvious danger to people who live in close proximity (i.e. neighborhoods located near the Port) as well as the ICE detention center. For example: On March 31, 2014, an explosion at the Williams Northwest Pipeline LNG peak shaving facility occurred in Plymouth, WA, injuring 5 workers and causing the evacuation of 400 people. An investigation named the leading cause of the explosion as inadequate procedures that allowed oxygen to remain in the system. The combined oxygen and gas ignited, causing the failure and explosion during the startup process.7

Terrorism. LNG facilities have been identified as ideal targets for terrorism. On May 15, 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack on a natural gas plant in Iraq, killing 10 and injuring dozens more.8

References
1https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_gas
2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liquefied_natural_gas
3www.tacomacleanlng.com
4https://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_departments/planning_and_development_services/planning_services/pse_proposed_tideflats_lng_facility
5http://www.sightline.org/2016/01/13/tacoma-steering-into-uncertain-waters/
6http://www.exponent.com/LNG_spill_out_dispersion/
7http://www.phmsa.dot.gov/pv_obj_cache/pv_obj_id_98982CCB658FA8ABD35E75131426D883FEA14800/filename/FIR_and_APPENDICES_PHMSA_WUTC_Williams_Plymouth_2016_04_28_REDACTED.pdf
8http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/15/middleeast/iraq-violence-isis/index.html
9http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/article77560112.html
10http://www.naturalgaswatch.org/?p=3194

Tacoma’s LNG Proposal In The News

TACOMA’S PROPOSED LNG PLANT RAISES SAFETY CONCERNS
Insufficient safeguards to govern facility.
Sightline Institute, May 17, 2016

Visit these links to learn more:

 

Regulators release report into 2014 explosion at liquid natural gas facility
Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission

New York denies critical permit for natural gas pipeline
Seattle Times

Puget Sound Energy: Tacoma LNG Facility FAQ
Puget Sound Energy

Exporting liquefied natural gas (LNG) to overseas markets is a dirty, dangerous practice that lets the industry make a killing at the expense of human health
Sierra Club

Large LNG Explosion Displaces Hundreds in Washington
EcoWatch, April 1, 2014

LNG History and LNG Accidents:
The Horrifying History of Liquefied Natural G
as
Tim Riley Law

Tacoma Steering Into Uncertain Waters: Loopholes for hybrid LNG facility would set an alarming precedent.
Sightline Institute