Thursday, February 10, 2011

I know it's safe...right?

For years the opponents of the Weaver's Cove facility have argued that an LNG terminal represents a safety risk to those who live in close proximity. Representatives from Hess and those in favor argue that LNG has a fantastic safety record and opponents are just using scare tactics. So I was interested to hear this news story the other day...

At least one person is missing after an explosion and the ensuing fire at a petroleum plant in Texas, the spokesman for the Enterprise Products company said Tuesday.

"We're trying to find out where some of the contractors are," Rick Rainey said.

The fire broke out after an explosion at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Enterprise Products petrochemical plant at Mont Belvieu, 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Houston.

Witnesses said that the huge blaze caused several trucks parked in a nearby lot to explode, and flames more than 30 meters (almost 100 feet) high could be seen from downtown Houston.

"We store liquid natural gas at the plant, which comes up when we extract natural gas from the ground. For now, we know of no one injured. We're still trying to confirm that," Rainey said.

Several squads of company and county firefighters are on the premises working to put out the fire.

Though the operating equipment has suffered no damage, the company announced that it will shut down the gas pipeline connected to the plant.

I know someone is going to point out that this wasn't an LNG explosion at a facility, it was a natural gas explosion in a pipeline. That maybe true but the pipeline was part of the infrastructure that serves an LNG facility. Right now in Fall River there are miles of gas pipes running under the ground providing service to businesses and homes. Nobody much thinks about them until something catastrophic happens. Well what happens if the pipe that fails isn't going to a home but is going to or coming from a major storage facility that just so happens to be located in a congested neighborhood? Is it wrong to wonder if something like what happened in Texas could happen here? And if it did and there was a huge blaze with flames shooting up over 100 feet high would we just be told 'technically it's not LNG. LNG is's got a great track record...

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