LNG “Bomb Trains” thru Philadelphia Could Explode En-route to Delaware River Port

by Duane Nichols on August 20, 2020

The population density in the Delaware River valley is very high, and should be protected from risks of fires and explosions as an entire train could burn and explode.

Rule allowing LNG rail shipments in US challenged in court

From an Article by Marc Levy, Minneapolis Star Tribune (AP), August 18, 2020

HARRISBURG, Pa. — A coalition of six environmental advocacy groups asked a federal judge on Tuesday to block a new Trump administration rule to allow rail shipments of liquefied natural gas, a new front in the movement of energy products backed by both the natural gas and rail freight industries.

The groups will argue in court that, among other things, the administration did not adequately study the new rule to ensure that the activity it is authorizing is safe for workers, communities and the environment, said Jordan Luebkemann, a lawyer for Earthjustice, which is representing the groups court.

The rule, they said, would allow shipments of the flammable and odorless liquid known as LNG by rail in tanker cars that are untested and that cannot withstand high-speed impacts.

“Under this new rule, it’s only a matter of time before we see an explosion in a major population center,” said Emily Jeffers, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity.

The U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration declined comment. The agency published the rule late last month in the Federal Register and it takes effect in the coming days.

The rule comes amid foundering prices for natural gas in the U.S., as court and regulatory battles over pipeline projects have slowed movement of the nation’s world-leading gas production to markets.

The country’s natural gas boom has fueled massive growth in LNG exports, growing last year by more than 65 times the amount exported in 2015, according to federal figures.

The rule requires enhancements — including a thicker outer tank made of steel with a greater puncture resistance — to the approved tank car design that, for decades, has been approved for shipments of other flammable cryogenic materials, such as liquid ethylene and liquid ethane.

Previously, federal hazardous materials regulations allowed shipments of LNG by truck, but not by rail, except with a special permit.

Fifteen states also objected to the rule during the comment period. Those states included Pennsylvania and New Jersey, where the Trump administration issued a special permit in December to ship LNG by rail from northern Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale natural gas fields to a yet-to-be-built storage terminal at a former explosives plant in New Jersey, along the Delaware River near Philadelphia.

From there, the LNG is expected to be exported to foreign markets for electricity production, although the applicant, a subsidiary of New Fortress Energy, has told federal regulators that some domestic industrial use is possible.

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See also: Marcellus LNG “Bomb Trains” Approved for Travel thru Philadelphia to New Jersey — Federal officials will let LNG be shipped by rail to Gibbstown, N.J., port on Delaware River, Andrew Maykuth, Philadelphia Inquirer, December 9, 2019

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See also: The High Risks of Fires & Explosions on LNG Railroad Cars — Some 15 states oppose Trump plan to allow LNG shipments by rail, MARC LEVY, Associated Press, WSAV NBC News 3, January 14, 2020

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Julian Turner August 20, 2020 at 3:15 am

Transporting LNG by rail: Trump’s new challenge for the US freight sector

An executive order on energy infrastructure by US President Donald Trump proposes that liquefied natural gas (LNG) be carried by rail, but critics have described rail cars carrying hydrocarbons as ‘bomb trains’. Can LNG be transported by rail without a repeat of the 2013 Lac-Mégantic disaster? Julian Turner reports:

Transporting LNG by rail: Trump’s new challenge for the US freight sector – Future Rail | Issue 75 | July 2019

https://rail.nridigital.com/future_rail_jul19/transporting_lng_by_rail_trump_s_new_challenge_for_the_us_freight_sector#

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Karen Feridun August 29, 2020 at 7:39 am

Help Put the Brakes on the Bomb Trucks and Trains

We need your help stopping a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project before it starts. Many of you have already signed our petition calling on the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) to say NO to a permit that would set in motion plans to move fracked liquefied methane gas from northern Pennsylvania via trucks and trains to Gibbstown, New Jersey where it would be transferred on to massive ships for export. Thank you!

Word has it that the DRBC’s vote could as early as mid-September, so we’re asking those of you who haven’t already signed to please add your names. And we’re asking all of you to share the petition with your networks.

Here’s the link to share —

https://sign.moveon.org/petitions/stop-fracked-gas-export-on-the-delaware-river

The transport of LNG poses unique safety hazards. Our partners at the Delaware Riverkeeper Network describe it this way. “An LNG release boils furiously into a flammable vapor cloud 620 times larger than the storage container. An unignited ground-hugging vapor cloud can move far distances, and exposure to the vapor can cause extreme freeze burns. If in an enclosed space, it asphyxiates, causing death. If ignited, the fire is inextinguishable; the fire is so hot that second-degree burns can occur within 30 seconds for those exposed within a mile. An LNG release can cause a Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion. The explosive force of LNG is similar to a thermobaric explosion – a catastrophically powerful bomb. The 2016 U.S. Emergency Response Guidebook advises fire chiefs initially to immediately evacuate the surrounding 1-mile area. No federal field research has shown how far the vapor cloud can move, so in the most recent serious Plymouth, Washington, LNG fire, they evacuated a 2-mile radius.”

Do you want to be in the car behind that truck that crashes or at the crossing where that train derails? Those of us on the proposed route don’t want that either. Do you want the DBRC to guarantee years more of climate-killing natural gas production and consumption by effectively green-lighting the industry’s expansion into new markets overseas? Neither do we. We need your help in sending the strongest message we can to the DRBC to tell them put our safety first and vote NO! Please sign and share our petition.

Appreciatively, Karen Feridun

https://sign.moveon.org/partnerships/karen-feridun

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