Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG)
LNG Threatens the Columbia River and Oregon’s Coast
Two liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals are proposed in Oregon, each requiring massive dredging in high-quality habitat and over 80 miles of high-pressure pipelines through Oregon rivers, farms, and forests. Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is methane gas (aka “natural gas”) that is super-cooled to condense the gas into a liquid form. Proposed terminals would convert methane between its gaseous and liquid form to ship it overseas in massive tankers as long as three football fields.
The Oregon LNG project, backed by Leucadia National Corporation, would require building a mega LNG export terminal and destroying estuarine wetlands in Warrenton, OR, near the mouth of the Columbia River. Oregon LNG also proposes to construct over 80 miles of pipeline that would extend from the Columbia River, cross through Clatsop and Columbia counties, cut under the Columbia River, and run roughly 4 to 5 miles through southwestern Washington State. Up until April 2012, Oregon LNG had proposed building over 100-miles of pipeline extending from the Columbia River through hundreds of farms, streams and wetlands in the Willamette Valley. Oregon LNG’s new pipeline route continues to threaten landowners and communities in Oregon, in addition to impacting landowners and rural communities in Washington State.
In southern Oregon, Veresen and its partners, Williams pipeline and PG&E, have proposed the 230-mile Pacific Connector pipeline and Jordan Cove LNG terminal.
Although Oregon LNG and Jordan Cove LNG originally proposed to import LNG and convert it into natural gas, both projects now seek to liquefy and export U.S. natural gas to foreign markets. To export LNG, Oregon LNG and Jordan Cove LNG will operate huge terminals and pipelines through iconic, salmon-bearing Oregon rivers such as the Columbia, Nehalem, Willamette, Umpqua, Coquille, and Rogue. Oregon LNG and Jordan Cove LNG will destroy fish habitat, pollute rivers, and raise energy prices by exporting LNG to high-priced overseas markets. If LNG is approved, consumers throughout the Northwest and beyond will pay the price for LNG export with higher energy prices and damage to protected Oregon bays, streams, and wetlands.
The Northwest Has Rejected LNG Once Already
Since 2005, out-of-state speculators have attempted to push LNG projects through Oregon, and they have been defeated by Oregonians. In 2010, we scored a major victory when the Texas-based, New York-funded Bradwood LNG project was canceled due to community opposition and the work of Columbia Riverkeeper and its coalition partners. (See “Bradwood LNG Pulls the Plug: Victory on the Columbia!).
Washingtonians and Oregonians – including farmers, foresters, commercial fishermen, winegrowers, property rights advocates and conservationists – formed a brawling, active coalition that opposed Bradwood LNG at every turn. We filed legal challenges, organized rallies, and won a referendum vote by a 2-1 margin that ultimately forced Bradwood LNG to declare bankruptcy. After spending $120 million, Bradwood LNG left Oregon without turning a single shovel of dirt or disturbing a single acre of highly sensitive salmon habitat.
Oregon Must Reject LNG Again – But This Time It’s LNG Export
Columbia Riverkeeper is adamantly opposed to exporting U.S. natural gas from the Columbia River. The Oregon LNG project would do enormous damage to sensitive watersheds that require restoration – not massive pipeline developments. Oregon LNG would cut through hundreds of waterbodies including the Columbia River, Young’s Bay, and the Lewis & Clark River.
LNG exports will also increase our energy prices, harming Northwest businesses and undercutting job creation.
We need your help. Oregon and Washington leaders can stop LNG export in its tracks. Your voice is critical to ensure that Northwest officials stand up for the public’s interests – not LNG exports. With your help, Columbia Riverkeeper will work for as long as it takes to ensure that Oregon doesn’t become a polluted, poorly-paid middleman for energy companies seeking to send U.S. natural gas overseas.
You and the Three-Mile Gas Vapor Hazard Zone
Highlights of the presentation by Dr. Jerry Havens in Astoria on May 21, 2009
Dr. Havens is a major consultant to the LNG industry and government. He is Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering at the University of Arkansas. Dr. Havens is an internationally known expert about biological warfare, nuclear weapons and the behavior of chemical fires. His work has long been a central component of federal LNG regulations. He is not for or against liquefied natural gas.
The Big Question for LNG safety: “How far away is far enough?”
• Some scientists believe a terminal needs to be 23 miles away from people. Concerning all LNG terminals proposed near where people are, Dr. Havens said, “If you have an alternative, put (the terminal) someplace else.” (See the large area that would be affected locally in this Gas Vapor Hazard Map.)
• Virtually all but one LNG fire has been in a contained structure, so scientists don’t know is how big and how hot an uncontained LNG fire would be. Examples of uncontained fires would be LNG leaking from ships transiting the Columbia or while offloading the ship at dock, or from leaking tanks or pipelines.
• Research about the safe distance from a QMax tanker, the kind that could come to Oregon LNG in Warrenton, is still underway and probably won’t be reported until 2010 and might be considered classified information.
• Natural gas, such as what we typically use, is lighter than air and so when it’s uncontained in the air, it rises up and dissipates high off the ground. In contrast, the supercooled liquefied natural gas is cold and heavier than air. When it leaks from a tank, the vapors spread out horizontally close to the ground instead of going up and away. Gas vapor clouds done experimentally look very much like the low‐lying marine layer level with the river that we often see in the morning.
• Escaping LNG vapors are invisible unless they are in condensed water vapor. As one audience member asked, how could anyone see an LNG vapor cloud if it was mingling with the marine layer or fog?
• It is unlikely LNG could spill without igniting. If it ignites, the burning vapor would ignite everything within it ‐ such as trees, people, buildings, boats, etc.
• A lit cigarette can ignite an LNG vapor cloud and so can a spark from friction with clothing, shoes, etc.
• Putting out an LNG fire with water is the wrong thing to do ‐ any gas vapor that isn’t ignited would be further disbursed by the water.
• An LNG fire is so hot that it doesn’t have smoke.