Are LNG plants safe?

PORT OF BROWNSVILLE — Just more than two years ago, a liquefied natural gas storage tank exploded at a facility near the town of Plymouth in rural Washington state.

Chunks of shrapnel as heavy as 250 pounds pierced the walls of the

134-foot LNG tank and caused leaks.

The accident injured several workers and forced an evacuation of all residents within two miles of the explosion.

According to Reuters, a bomb squad robot was deployed to snap photos of the damaged tank in an effort to reduce risk to


Sightline institute reported fumes from the facility had sickened residents, emergency responders and had endangered the public. Sightline also stated the leak formed a cloud of gas vapors, which the wind pushed toward the town. A mix of 5 to 15 percent concentration of vapors, along with oxygen could have caught fire with an ignition source.

During this time, traffic was shut down on the nearby Columbia River, as well as parts of the highway and the rail lines near the plant.

The source of the explosion and subsequent fire was deemed to be a rupture in one of the pressure vessels in the storage tank.

While opponents of the LNG plants proposed for the Port of Brownsville have been more vocal about environmental concerns, there are always safety issues as well.

One of the LNG plants proposed in the Port of Brownsville, for example, would be situated less than two miles from a populated area on Long Island Village.

The one in Washington state hasn’t been the only LNG plant accident. While there aren’t a lot on record, there have been some deadly accidents.

There are two typically talked about when it comes to LNG plant safety. Both incidents resulted in many deaths.

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