Hazards Associated with the Importation of Liquefied Natural Gas

by Francis W. Murray, David L. Jaquette, William S. King


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In the future the amount of liquefied natural gas (LNG) being imported by sea will increase. Handling quantities of this highly volatile cryogenic substance will entail hazards of a nature not previously encountered in large-scale transportation of hazardous materials. In particular, a large spill on water, especially in a harbor, could lead to heavy property damage and danger to life through drift of the vapor cloud, fire, and possibly explosion. The statistical record suggests a low probability of such occurrence, but the record is not adequate to show this with high confidence. Theoretical models of rate of vaporization and atmospheric drift of the vapor cloud were designed for small spills. It is recommended that adequate models be developed, and that meanwhile caution be chosen in selection of sites for LNG facilities. Until the level of risk can be shown to be acceptably low, such sites should be remote.

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