More Harm
Than Help

San Bruno Blast Should Be
Final Nail in LNG Coffin

Opinion by Tom Elias
There is no doubt that Pacific Gas & Electric Co. has acted at least somewhat more responsibly in the wake of the September natural gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno than BP, the former British Petroleum, did after its springtime offshore oil platform disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. No one had to jawbone PG&E to set up a $100 million fund for victims the way President Obama had to hammer on BP executives before they agreed to compensate victims of their blast. No one forced PG&E's offer to buy up all the damaged homes at a premium price. But no matter how well PG&E behaves now (and it has yet to clean up its pipeline-maintenance act), one long-term consequence of San Bruno will almost certainly be the death of any and all plans to bring more liquefied natural gas (LNG) to California. Santa Monica Mirror – 201010281243

Proposed LNG terminal off Oxnard
terminated by state commission

The California State Lands Commission terminated Clearwater Port's bid to build a liquefied natural gas terminal off Oxnard's shores after the company abandoned its application. An application is terminated after six months of inactivity and the Clearwater proposal has been dormant for more than a year, according to a letter the commission sent to the company last week. While the company still may try to establish an LNG terminal in the future, it decided to abort this bid because of a combination of factors. Those factors include a weak natural gas market, difficulties meeting California's design standards, and uncertainty over how legislation aimed at curbing greenhouse gases may impact the business, said Joseph Desmond, a senior vice president with NorthernStar Natural Gas, Clearwater Port’s parent company. "We are in a position to reopen the file at some point in the future," Desmond said, adding the company just renewed its option to lease or buy the oil platform on which the terminal was proposed. Ventura County Star – 201003161708


This 30-inch natural gas pipeline took out 12 campers in the desert. How many folks would perish, how many people burned, disfigured, and otherwise injured, were this to occur in Oxnard?

NorthernStar Natural Gas Inc. took over Crystal Energy's Clearwater Port proposal. One of their options is to run a high-pressure natural gas pipeline from the Mandalay power plant area across Gonzales Road to Del Norte Blvd. and then north to the gas pumping station north of Mesa School. This means thousands of Oxnard residents would be in constant danger from potential explosions as pictured above. The Ventura County Fire Chief has publicly stated that there are an average of six (6) natural gas pipeline accidents each month somewhere in our county. Why do we humans persist in pursuing the most dangerous methods of energy production? Southern California deserts are capable of producing enough electricty to power all energy needs (24/7/365) in the Continental United States via commercial solar operations! This technology exists: Small such electricty generating plants are now being constructed, others have been running for 20 years or so. The only real deterrents are cost and slow returns on investment. Just as with personal computers (the original IBM 8086 PC cost $4,000) these costs and returns will greatly improve as their use widens. Let's 'Go Solar' thereby saving our planet and, incidentally, saving thousands of human lives!

Corrosion of Natural Gas Pipeline
Rupture and Fire Near Carlsbad, New Mexico, Aug. 19, 2000
Accident Synopsis: At 5:26 a.m., mountain daylight time, on Saturday, August 19, 2000, a 30-inch diameter natural gas transmission pipeline operated by El Paso Natural Gas Company (EPNG) ruptured adjacent to the Pecos River near Carlsbad, New Mexico. The released gas ignited and burned for 55 minutes. Twelve persons who were camping under a concrete-decked steel bridge that supported the pipeline across the river were killed and their three vehicles destroyed. Two nearby steel suspension bridges for gas pipelines crossing the river were extensively damaged. According to EPNGS property and other damages or losses totaled $998,296.

The U.S. Office of Pipeline Safety (OPS) has counted 6,377 accidents between 1986 and August 2001. These incidents caused 376 deaths, 1,699 injuries, $1,140,697,582 in property damage, and a gross loss of 2,777,205 barrels of various oil fuels. (OPS can't quantify the loss of natural gas.)
  • Pipeline Accidents, 1969 - 2005NTSB – 20070608

No future for LNG on the West Coast
Commentary by Thomas D. Elias
Memo to NorthernStar Natural Gas, Woodside Energy, Mitsubishi Corp., and other would-be developers of liquefied natural gas facilities in California and elsewhere on the West Coast: Forget it. At least for another decade or two. That’s a message they should have gotten in the early days of last winter, when reports from the former George W. Bush administration’s Energy Department and the staffs of two key state agencies concluded that neither California nor the United States in general will be needing more LNG anytime in the foreseeable future. In fact, those reports predicted a huge drop in LNG imports over the next 20 years, with the federal experts expecting that LNG will account for just 3 percent of all natural gas used in America by 2030, compared with 16 percent today. Ventura County Star – 20090403

  Does NorthernStar have the money
     to build an LNG project?

  New Sandia Report of
     7 Mile LNG Vapor Cloud

  Leaks in new LNG fleet spur fears

  MUST READ! USGS Comments on
    Potential Geologic and Seismic
    Hazards Affecting Coastal Ventura
    County, California (USGS)

  USCG Standards/Links
  FERC Gas Pipelines
  FERC Consequence Assessment
     Methods for Incidents Involving
     Releases from LNG Carriers

  CA Energy Commission
  CA LNG Projects
  State Lands Commission
  Public Utilities Commission
  NorthernStar's Clearwater Port
  LNG Law Blog
  NASA Flywheel Battery Project  
  Tribology Systems, Inc. (Flywheel
  Eaton Powerware (Flywheel

  Pacific Environment's California
      Energy Program

  LNG: County caught in the crossfile
  Decision means natural gas stays high
  LNG: Danger to our Communities
  LNG-related Links
  Ratepayers for Affordable, Clean Energy

  The Methanol Economy
  LNG no early gas savior
  A new fuel fix: boon or bane?
  NPR: Oil vs. Alternatives?
  Risks/Reward of LNG
  Competing for Energy Resources, Part 1
  Competing for Energy Resources, Part 2
  LNG: Energy source, or target?
  FERC backs bogus study
   The bogus study itself (note long
        disclaimer at beginning!)

  Hazardous Seas
  Engineer lays out LNG risks
  LNG: Impact on Prices
  LNG liability limited
  Wildfires, Inversions, and LNG Spills

  Fiction: How it could happen...
  US lags on solar
  Hydrogen closer?
  Too much LNG?

Call (805) 488-0422 to learn how
you can help protect us and our
ocean from these projects.

Electricity does not explode. Direct current does not kill. Oxnard gets a lot of sun: Solar power is our answer.

One of the smaller LNG tankers
At three football fields in length, this is one of the smaller LNG tankers. These ships do not themselves run on natural gas but rather on maritime diesel fuel (high sulfur content, high flash point, low cost). So do most ocean-going vessels. "These ships run the dirtiest fuel available," Earthjustice attorney Martin Wagner said, pointing to the high-sulfur, metals-containing heavy bunker fuel used on ocean ships. Federal records prove that the EPA attempted to go much farther with this regulation but the Bush administration forced the agency to back off on both the stringency of the standards and the deadlines," Bluewater's Russell Long says. New regs are due in 2007. (Diesel Fuel News, May 12, 2003) So much for our air quality. . .

Some quick thoughts and some
hard questions about LNG:

The current Administration wants more natural gas to meet more than current and anticipated demands. The state likewise is leaning in that direction despite the absolute fact that California has no need for additional natural gas supplies. The Administration wants to fuel its hydrogen power program. Power cells and all that. Well, natural gas, by itself, is a cleaner and safer vehicle fuel than processed hydrogen. Go figure!

Some other ponderables:

  • The developers promise lower electricity rates should LNG be imported into California. That's a bald-faced lie. If the price of natural gas drops, the LNG operations will fold — there wouldn't be enough profit in it then for them. The proponents' other promises are equally invalid upon serious inspection.

  • When they strip methane for hydrogen, what's left? What happens to what's left?

  • When LNG spills into the ocean, what happens? Who is sure about this? Can they prove, rather than aver, their answers?

  • How would an LNG tanker stand up to fire from an M19-3 40mm Grenade Machine Gun? (Range is 1.5 miles; weapon weighs 72.5#; rate of fire: 350 rounds per minute)

  • How would an LNG tanker stand up to fire from an M252 81mm Mortar? (Range is 3.5 miles; rate of fire up to 30 rounds per minute; weapon weighs 90#)

  • How would an LNG tanker stand up to fire from shoulder-fired surface-to-surface missiles? (Range generally 3.5 miles; various types and warheads)

  • Please note, all the above weaponry can be handled by only two persons riding on a simple raft. Each is readily available on the Black Market.

  • U.S. Says 'Thousands' of Missiles Missing

  • There are no reliable records of LNG accidents involving ships of foreign registry outside US waters. On the other hand, there are no reported LNG-related accidents of LNG tankers under US registry anywhere in the world. Question is, how many LNG tankers have US registry? Answer: None.

  • LNG operations appear safe — at least on the surface — but what records that do publicly exist show many 'incidents' concerning older LNG plants. This is the normal course of human events: Something's been working well for a long time so the worker-bees and their bosses assume all remains o.k. Then the bad stuff happens.

  • Likewise, ultra-high-pressure gas pipelines have a similar track record but the length of time between installation and 'incident' is much less. No one responsible for installing these pipelines can be held responsible for such incidents. Local gas authorities, who do hold themselves responsible, do not begin to have deep enough pockets to recompense the damages.

An LNG tanker passed by condominiums in Charlestown on its way out of Boston Harbor. Mayor Thomas M. Menino has declared the LNG shipments too dangerous to continue.
Just to put things into proper perspective! This is Boston Harbor. Photo courtesy the Boston Globe.

Algerian LNG blast after it cooled enough for fire fighters to try to put it out.

Firemen try to douse LNG-caused fires at an Algerian reliquefication plant in January 2004. There's no hiding land-based accidents. . .

The Algerian cooling field as firemen squirt out flareups.

The cooling field. Initially thought to have been non-LNG related, officials later confirmed this blast was due to a leaking LNG tank that was ignited by an non-LNG related operation. Well, gee, let's see: Both local proposals have their pipelines entering Oxnard at electric generating plants. Both will have ground level structures for metering and the clean-out pig access. Surely there's not a spark to be found around them!
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Algerian LNG blast at night Belgium LNG blast in daylight The pit left by the Belium LNG pipeline blast.
LEFT: Algerian fires at night.
CENTER: Fires from an LNG blast rise over Ath, Belgium, on July 30, 2004.
RIGHT: Blast pit from Belgium pipeline blast.

Bulgarian LNG-caused fires from afar long after the blastBulgarian LNG-caused fires from afar long after the blast
Fires and dense smoke rise over Belgium for most of the day on July 30, 2004. The blast killed 17 persons and injured more than 200 in the town of Ath, about 25 miles southwest of Brussels.

Page Originated: 12 Aug 04

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