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Tuesday, February 18, 2020
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Technology & Innovation

Forum Held Regarding Dangers of Liquified Natural Gas

The Citizens for Clean Air and Water (CCAW), in collaboration with the Coastal Group Sierra Club and the Center for a Sustainable Coast, are holding a public form on Sept. 3 entitled, “The Case against LNG.”
The forum is part of an ongoing effort by the group to raise awareness in Savannah and Chatham County to the dangers of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in the group’s view. The Attorney General of Rhode Island, Patrick Lynch, and Rhode Island Public Utilities Commissioner, Paul Roberti, will be featured speakers regarding their successful efforts to resist the construction and expansion of LNG import terminals in Providence, R.I. and Fall River, Mass..
LNG is natural gas (methane) that has been cooled to minus 260° F condensing the vapor into a liquid form. The process reduces the volume by 620 times, making it more cost efficient to transport across the ocean in supertankers.
The primary purpose of the public policy forum is to alert Chatham County residents, elected officials, and emergency management organizations to the serious risks posed by the currently expanding Elba Island LNG terminal, according to CCAW President, Clete Bergen, a Savannah attorney.
“Given its location along a treacherous bend in the busy Savannah River shipping channel, and proximity to populated areas, and the proposed site of a Jasper County port, the current site is far too dangerous,” according to Bergen.
"While LNG is not the only hazardous material transported and stored along the Savannah River, the catastrophic results of an LNG accident or terrorist attack would be far more devastating than most people in the community realize. I’m concerned that the people of Savannah are not aware of the danger,” he said.
According to a 1980s Pentagon study later published in book form by its authors, “Burning oil cannot spread very far on land or water, but a cubic meter of spilled LNG rapidly boils into about six hundred twenty cubic meters of pure natural gas, which in turn mixes with surrounding air. Mixtures of between about five and fourteen percent natural gas in air are flammable. Thus a single cubic meter of spilled LNG can make up to 12,400 cubic meters of flammable gas-air mixture. A single modern LNG tanker typically holds 125,000 cubic meters of LNG, equivalent to 2,700 million cubic feet of natural gas. That gas can form between about 20 and 50 billion cubic feet of flammable gas-air mixture – several hundred times the volume of the Great Pyramid of Cheops,” CCAW states.
CCAW  believes that few realize that the LNG tanks in Savannah since the mid 1970s only operated for two years before being mothballed in 1980, inactive for most of their tenure on the Savannah landscape. “Few remarked or complained, not even public officials charged with ensuring public safety, when the facility reopened in 2001 and expanded its capacity by building a new 4.2 billion cubic foot storage tank,” says CCAW.
“Southern LNG is now in the process of a second expansion which will make the Elba Island facility the largest of its kind in the United States,” says Bergen.
Local activist and CCAW board member, Judy Jennings points out that “things have changed since the tanks were first built on Elba Island forty years ago. The industry needs to change the way it does business.” She also warns that the reopening and expansion projects “did not receive the appropriate regulatory scrutiny. For example, current guidelines frown on placing LNG terminals on busy navigation channels. This could not be in a worse place.”
In marked contrast, other communities across the nation, when faced with the construction of LNG facilities in their midst, are resisting because of the risk of a catastrophic accident. Rhode Island is a prime example.
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