By Dan Christensen, FloridaBulldog.org
More than a half-million men, women and children in South Florida who live near truck and rail routes used to ship surging supplies of volatile liquefied natural gas (LNG) are at risk of a potentially catastrophic accident, according to a national non-profit environmental advocacy group.
Those residents, as well as 228 schools and 13 hospitals, are within the U.S. Department of Transportation’s recommended one-mile evacuation radius if an LNG “tank, rail car, or tank truck is involved in a fire.”
“A container rupture, truck crash or train derailment could result in fireballs, flammable vapors, toxic fumes, and devastating fires that burn so hot that they are exceedingly difficult to extinguish and nearly impossible to contain,” says a research report released Tuesday by Food & Water Watch (FWW). “First responders often lack training in responding to liquified gas releases.”
The group is calling on Broward County commissioners to “protect residents by halting the transport of liquified gas at the Port and conducting an investigation into the operation.” Food & Water Watch made a similar overture in January. A press conference is scheduled noon Tuesday.
Port Everglades Director Jonathan Daniels has expressed confidence in the ability of Broward Sheriff’s Office firefighters at the port to handle any LNG fire. And so far, the commission has not seen fit to address the issue in a public meeting.
SAFETY TAKES A BACK SEAT
Safety concerns, however, appear to be taking a back seat to the growing economic importance of booming LNG exports, here and around the nation.
A story last September in The Maritime Executive, headlined “LNG Exports Helped Drive Historic U.S. Trade Surplus in Energy,’’ says, “Thanks in large part to LNG sales, America exported more energy than it imported last year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency. It is the first time that the U.S. has recorded a net energy-trade surplus since at least 1974…In 2020, the trade balance of America’s energy products – petroleum, natural gas, coal, and electricity exports – ran a net surplus of $27 billion.’’
LNG, originating as fracked gas that’s supercooled into a liquid state for transport, is shipped to Port Everglades from a liquefier plant in Hialeah owned by New Fortress Energy. New Fortress was founded and is run by billionaire Wes Edens, co-founder of Fortress Investment Group, an investment manager of $53.3 billion assets. Edens is also co-owner of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks.
The Hialeah plant, capable of processing 100,000 gallons a day, started up in 2016. Fortress Investment Group subsidiary American LNG Marketing LLC began shipping that LNG in special, double-walled containers to Barbados via Seaboard Marine at PortMiami.
That year just under 100,000 MCF of natural gas was exported, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. MCF is an abbreviation for the Roman numeral M, or 1,000, and cubic feet, and a measurement for natural gas that equals 1,032 cubic feet. One MCF is approximately equal to one million British Thermal Units (BTUs).
In early 2017, American Marketing switched to shipping New Fortress’s LNG 19 miles north via King Ocean Services at Port Everglades. The liquefier plant’s LNG exports more than doubled.
LIQUIFIED GAS EXPORTS HIT RECORD
In 2021, American Marketing shipped a record 1.13 million MCF of natural gas via Port Everglades to five destinations: Haiti, The Bahamas, Barbados, Nicaragua and Jamaica.
But LNG exports via Port Everglades are flowing even faster this year. The first quarter of 2022 saw shipments to the Caribbean nearly triple from the same period in 2021.
New Fortress’s plant is one of only three locations in the U.S. where LNG transport by rail is allowed. It obtained a special permit to ship by rail from the Trump Administration in 2017 through its Doral subsidiary Energy Transport Solutions. In 2020, Florida Bulldog reported that the issuance of the permits followed Fortress Investment Group’s apparently forgiving $100 million in debt owed by President Trump.
In areas north of Port Everglades, the Florida East Coast Railway is permitted to use, and does use, LNG tank cars to fuel its engines.
The tracks of the FEC, which under the Trump Administration was awarded special federal permit to transport LNG, are also used by South Florida’s intercity passenger rail service Brightline. FEC is owned by Florida East Coast Industries, which notes on its website that it is “backed by the resources of Fortress Investment Group.”
POOR, PEOPLE OF COLOR AT MOST RISK
Seven years ago, Martin County Fire Rescue conducted a “vulnerability analysis” of FEC’s transportation of LNG. It used Environmental Protection Agency software to predict what could happen on a typical afternoon if a train crash punctured a four-inch hole in a single LNG container car that led to an explosion.
If an accident occurred at the intersection of tracks at Southeast Cove Road and Southeast Dixie Highway in Stuart, 2,410 people would be affected. Of that total, nearly 400 would experience life-threatening injuries or death, the agency said.
Of particular concern to safety advocates is the vulnerability of low-income minorities who often live near the rail line and roads used to transport LNG.
Analyzing U.S. census tract data, Food & Water Watch researchers concluded, “Environmental injustice is evident with the one-mile evacuation zone surrounding South Florida’s liquified gas transportation routes. People of color and people living in poverty are disproportionately represented when compared to the overall population of Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
“Both the train and truck transportation routes cross some of the most impoverished areas of Miami-Dade and Broward counties. People in poverty are 1.3 times more likely to live within the evacuation zone, compared to residents living above the poverty line.
“Racial disparities are also evident within the evacuation zone. People of color are 1.5 times more likely to live within the one-mile evacuation zone compared to white residents, and black residents are nearly twice as likely,” the report says.
“Floridians are being unknowingly volunteered for this dangerous bomb train experiment,” the report states. “Dense communities in Broward and Miami-Dade counties are actively at risk from this project that only deepens our reliance on fossil fuels as we approach a climate crisis tipping point. It doesn’t have to be this way.”
Pingback: Sunburn — The morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics – Daily Elevated News / May 24, 2022 9:47 am
David E Bruderly / May 24, 2022 11:58 am
This article ignores the FACT that production, transport and use of LNG is much safer & cleaner than the production, transport and use of the commonly used fuels it can replace; i.e. diesel fuel & gasoline. If the Bulldog wants to promote environmental justice for minorities, not to mention reducing ALL forms of pollution, you would try harder to provide context that explains WHY it is critical for this Nation, especially South Florida, to accelerate the transition to cleaner, safer and more affordable non-petroleum motor fuels, like electricity, natural gas & hydrogen, and away from total dependence on dirty, dangerous and expensive liquid petroleum-based fuels, like diesel fuel & gasoline. Properly used, LNG provides a bridge to a Sustainable Zero Pollution Energy Future. If you don’t understand how this transition can be achieved then get in touch and I will help you write articles that promote solutions to our global pollution challenges.
Hollis Hollingsworth / May 24, 2022 2:29 pm
All about the Benjamin’s.
Just like everything else fort shittydale does.
10k more toilets… Hahaha…
Build up… But dont build under, unless its a stupid tunnel….
Cecile T Scofield / May 24, 2022 2:32 pm
LOL – “Port Everglades Director Jonathan Daniels has expressed confidence in the ability of Broward Sheriff’s Office firefighters at the port to handle any LNG fire.” Citizens really need to see some assurance of that in writing from the Fire Department.
In early 2000, Amerada Hess had proposed to develop an 8 Bcf LNG terminal on the banks of the Taunton River in Fall River, Massachusetts. The City of Fall River asserted that local communities did not have evacuation and emergency response resources capable of dealing with an accidental or intentional LNG spill.
Fire Chief Stephen Rivard, from the neighboring town of Somerset, said that, in the event of a major LNG spill at the facility, “The adverse consequences would be well beyond our capability to manage. The potential for loss of thousands of lives could not be ruled out, with thousands more exposed to life-altering injuries.” Fall River Fire Chief David Thiboutot agreed, noting that the heat intensity from a large pool fire would preclude effective extinguishment, and fire fighters, even with protective clothing, would be unable to get close enough to allow their effort at extinguishment to be effective.”
When asked about the need to evacuate and how that would affect his ability to fight a vapor cloud or fire, Chief Thiboutot said fire fighters and emergency medical personnel would be utilizing the same roadways, but going in opposite directions. “I do not see how both efforts can be simultaneously pursued successfully. The resulting chaos is certain to frustrate both efforts.”
LNG fires cannot be extinguished with water, and Flammable Vapor-Gas Clouds can travel great distances, igniting everything in their path. If Counties do not have the emergency response resources needed to deal with such potentially catastrophic events, playing with LNG is probably a bad idea, especially in areas where County budgets for Emergency Preparedness are already seriously strained.
In 2014, the Williams LNG plant in Plymouth, Washington, had a fire and explosion. The Benton County, Washington, Fire Chief established his command post about 3 miles from the scene and also:
• Closed SR14, which is a major corridor on the Washington side of the Columbia River.
• Shut down the Tidewater Barge Company used to transport commodities up and down the Columbia River
• Shut down Burlington Northern Santa Fe. Somewhere between 6 and 13 Bakken Oil trains go through there a day at that point in time, and they weren’t very happy with us, but we closed the rail down.
• And then we put a temporary flight restriction in place because that stuff is lighter than air so if we had a whole bunch of unignited gas going up above the plant, we didn’t want media or any other “looky-loos” creating a large catastrophic explosion based on the plume that could be above the plant area based on all the leaks.
We started off with a 2-mile evacuation radius that went across the Columbia River into the Oregon side.
In 2004, an LNG explosion flattened part of the Port of Skikda in Algeria. 30 people were killed and 70 injured. It is believed that static electricity from the firemen ignited flammable vapor-gas that was escaping from a defective valve on a tanker truck loaded with 10,000 gallons of LNG. Flames shot 40 feet into the air, and fire officials evacuated the area.
The best way to fight an LNG fire is probably to let it burn itself out and pray that the wind doesn’t carry flammable vapor-gas over any populated areas. When the gas-to-oxygen ratio reaches a certain point, the vapors will explode. Confined LNG vapors in a building or ditch will also explode.
In Massachusetts, LNG travels along certified routes only, with additional controls, such as
• Certain routes and highways allow LNG and others do not.
• There are school bus and Haz-Mat exclusion restrictions in many areas that limit the actual time a day that LNG can be on the road.
• Once a load of LNG has started moving, it is not supposed to come to a stop.
• On Massachusetts Turnpike:
1. Two transporters traveling in the same direction cannot be within a quarter of a mile of each other.
2. If the speed limit is reduced to 45 mph, the transports must exit the highway.
3. At no time are LNG transporters supposed to stop on the Massachusetts Turnpike
It’s time to regulate LNG in the State of Florida.
frank papcin / May 25, 2022 4:57 pm
fear is the left’s biggest weapon to use against anything they want to stop
but fear is ” second ” only to their outright lies, covered up by a bias press
and you know it
JB / May 27, 2022 10:38 pm
OH MY. LETS BAN GASOLINE ALSO.
AND POOL ACID
AND OXYGEN DELIVERIES
AND CAUSTIC DELIVERIES
LOCK PEOPLE UP TO KEEP THEM SAFE
OH. BAN GUNS AND HAMMERS AND KNIVES AND BASEBALL BATS
I WILL FEEL SAFER.
Victoria Olson / May 31, 2022 12:09 pm
You all are NOT getting the point of this article. The bottom-line is NO ONE objects to the fuel it’s the route it takes to get there. DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND, if there is an accident in the transport it will EXPLODE in RESIDENTIAL & SCHOOL NEIGHBORHOODS. When it blows it will take out a 1 mile radius. I personally live 4 blocks from the train tracks & I will no longer exist on this earth if it blows. Yes, I would be stupid not to be concerned.
JB / May 31, 2022 9:19 pm
The rail lines were built long before developers bought up the land and built homes and businesses. It is human encroachment upon existing rail lines that have always carried dangerous chemicals, gases, oil, and chlorine that put people in potential danger. Your beef is with the zoning codes and the cities that permitted people like you to live along the tracks. To blame the LNG Company is to ignore those elected lawmakers that permitted such commerce. Ideally the LNG plant would be located at or near the port. But I suspect there was objection to that. So be at peace because if the fear mongers scenarios come true you wont feel a thing as the explosion vaporizes all in its path.