Tim Riley

 

 Dear Governor Baldacci,

I know that you are considering permitting LNG facilities into your fine state because your residents have contacted me here in California, and because I closely follow LNG related stories.

As you may already know, I host a comprehensive website on the Risks and Danger of LNG recognized by the energy industry, Federal and State agencies, universities and journalists the world over.

This past week, Upstream (an oil &gas industry newspaper/newswire),and Dow Jones Newswire conducted lengthy interviews with me. The two resultant news articles are included below for your convenience. Please read them and visit my website as you consider permitting LNG -DANGER into your peaceful communities.

The LNG website is updated frequently, so if you haven't visited it recently - here is the hyperlink: TimRileyLaw.com

Once there, scroll down briefly and click on the Risks and Danger of LNG.

Please feel free to contact me at anytime.

Tim Riley

805-984-2350

II.                 "Tide turns as LNG protests grow"

UPSTREAM November 14, 2003   08:28 GMT

“Hot topic: the prospect of LNG landing facilities in the vicinity of metropolitan areas along the US Gulf coast and near Los Angeles (top) have stirred up a hornets nest as protesters mobilize  (sic) to block the plans due to safety concerns. California's new governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, whose constituents have experienced major fires up close in recent weeks, will face tough decisions as the state's massive energy needs are counterbalanced by protesters' cries that an LNG mishap could lead to even greater devastation than that caused by the forest fires.”      Montage: CHRISTIAN ANDVIK”

UPSTREAM *

November 14, 2003   08:28 GMT

III.               Tide turns as LNG protests grow

Industry is forced into rethink as opposition grows to onshore sites

By Dann Rogers

“Before Shell got its liquefied natural gas ambitions booted off Mare Island in southern California a year ago by a citizens' group that threatened the political future of the local mayor, opposition to the expanding import sector in the Lower 48 States was relatively muted.

‘We see a Nimby (not in my backyard) response at the community level, but nothing on a national scale,’ says Mark Stultz of the US Natural Gas Supplier Association.

Many even thought a Pimby (please in my backyard) response awaited their LNG import terminal proposals in the US Gulf coast states of Texas, Louisiana and Alabama.

However, bird protection organization the Houston Audubons Society is challenging Freeport LNG Development's proposal to site a facility 1.6 kilometres from a bird sanctuary at Freeport in Texas. "Our biggest concern is that the Texas barrier islands are such an incredible resource," said Audubon member Flo Hannah. "We think they should site the project offshore."

Despite the opposition in this instance, Cheniere Energy is still expected to win final approval from the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Ferc) for the $400-million terminal in early 2004.

Ferc has already concluded in a draft impact statement that the Freeport terminal will pose little threat to the environment.

At Mobile Bay, Alabama, lawsuits are in varying states of preparation to oppose ExxonMobil's proposal to retool a former US Navy site into a regasification terminal with connections to pipelines running to New York, the mid-west and Florida.

Landowners will be suing for a fall in prices of real estate located within three miles (4.8 kilometres) of the site.

‘The Alabama lawyers are also going to sue the Port Authority to stop the sale of the property on the grounds that it is being undersold,’ says California personal injury lawyer Tim Riley, whose website timrileylaw.com is an unofficial US chatroom for anti-LNG campaigners. In California, Riley is promoting a letter-writing campaign to local lawmakers to oppose two offshore LNG plants proposed by BHP and local group Crystal Energy.

At public hearings, he talks of a catastrophic LNG future filled with mass destruction and death as the super-cooled natural gas is ignited by either accident, negligence or a terrorist act.

‘Only the construction of nuclear energy plants on our beaches could be worse for all the communities from Santa Barbara to Malibu,’ says Riley on his website.

‘We can get by without the new LNG terminals if there is better regulation and penalties for the manipulation of the energy trading markets to artificially raise prices as was done a few years ago. I think things will be a lot better off for everybody without them,’ he says.

Bob Nimocks of LNG research company Zeus Development is not sure why there does not seem to be the same amount of opposition to LNG projects in Europe even though Europeans are considered more conscious of environmental matters than Americans.

The LNG companies are looking to site regasification facilities close to the Lower 48 States at points where they have access to multiple pipelines that connect them to a variety of relatively high-value markets.

Citizens say ‘not in my back yard’ for a variety of reasons, including fear of deadly explosions, traffic being halted if a tanker goes under a bridge, destruction of wetlands, disturbance of fishing grounds, devaluation of tourism potential and because many find mega-industrial facilities an eyesore.

*about Upstream

“Launched in November 1996, Upstream is one of the most respected newspapers in the oil and gas industry. The new 24-hour online service is generated by the very same expert reporters who consistently deliver top-quality stories. The service will provide round-the-clock news, five days a week, published "real-time" from our offices in Asia, Europe and America.

   Upstreamonline provides you with links to related stories and offers open access to its comprehensive archive, which dates back to the newspaper's launch. Additional features are planned to complement the service for Upstream subscribers. Upstream supplies its readers in over 94 countries with a hard-hitting mix of news, politics, topical features, opinion, personal profiles and market information from every corner of the globe.” [By subscription only].

IV.              DOW JONES NEWSWIRE

11-19-03   1614 ET

As LNG Imports Soar, Safety Concerns Are Hotly Debated

By Spencer Jakab

Of DOW JONES NEWSWIRES

NEW YORK (Dow Jones) -- Surging U.S. imports of liquefied natural gas are facing a public backlash over the safety of the huge tankers used to transport the fuel.

Analysts expect LNG's market share to grow from just over 1% of overall gas supply last year to about 13% by 2025. Much of it is shipped in tankers that typically hold the equivalent of 20 billion gallons of natural gas and which some worry could be the target of terrorists.

"It's such a tremendous source of destruction that they don't need a bomb," said Tim Riley, a lawyer in Oxnard Shores, Calif., who has been a vocal critic of plans to build an LNG receiving terminal near his community.

Foes of LNG development point to the fact that the potential energy content of a single LNG tanker, which contains natural gas that is supercooled to 260 degrees Fahrenheit and concentrated to 1/600th of its normal gaseous volume, is equivalent to 700 tons of TNT or about 55 times the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.

But representatives of the industry and the U.S. Department of Energy insist that LNG has an admirable safety record since large-scale commercial shipment began in the 1960s.

Doug Quillen, an executive with ChevronTexaco Corp. (CVX), writes: "Liquefied natural gas tankers have been run aground, experienced loss of containment, suffered weather damage, been subjected to low temperature embrittlement from cargo spillage, suffered engine room fires, and been involved in serious collisions with other vessels - no cargo explosions reported."

Critics, however, cite an LNG spill in Cleveland in 1944 of 5% of the volume contained in a modern tanker that left 128 people dead and 225 injured. The industry counters that it has since learned much more about how to safely store the supercooled liquid, including the use of double-hulled nickel-alloy tanks, and that storage and unloading facilities are no longer located near residential areas. "LNG tankers are inherently much more robust than typical crude, fuel and chemical tankers," according to Quillen.

Studies Say Tanks Could Be Ruptured

Opponents such as Riley are unconvinced. "Look at the USS Cole – forget double hulls." A study prepared for the Pentagon in 1982 by Amory and L. Hunter Lovins on energy security concluded of LNG tanks that "proneness to brittle fracture implies that relatively small disruptions by sabotage, earthquake, objects flung at the tank by high winds, etc. could well cause immediate, massive failure of an above grade LNG tank." A General Accounting Office study similarly concluded that "tanks afford limited protection even against non-military small arms projectiles."

But the industry's safety arguments point out that even if such an incident cannot be ruled out, LNG is not explosive, as proven by both laboratory tests and years of practical experience. A video statement by chemistry Nobel Prize recipient Dr. Alan Heeger on Shell's website says that "anything capable of piercing a double-hulled carrier or storage tank would almost certainly ignite the escaping gas," thus limiting the fire to the immediate vicinity. Shell is part of Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. (RD).

Indeed, many countries, especially in East Asia and Europe that are far more dependent on LNG imports than the U.S. have never experienced such accidents. LNG is only flammable once it has turned back into gaseous form and only once it has reached a concentration between 5-15% in the air, its so-called "lower flammability limit" or LFL.

But LFL is what makes LNG so dangerous according to Riley. He points out that a local study done in 1977 said a severe 125,000 cubic meter tanker spill could create a vapor cloud that would spread up to 30 miles before ignition.

 Energy executives, the DOE and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have cited a study by Oklahoma-based QUEST consultants that analyzes various scenarios involving tank punctures and atmospheric conditions and concludes that any fire would remain relatively close to its source, about 470 feet, and would create "radiant flux levels" harmful to humans within roughly 1,770 feet for a 5 meter puncture. This study was cited when LNG tankers were allowed to reenter Boston Harbor after a brief ban following the Sept. 11 attacks.

 QUEST Study Becomes Source Of Controversy

As if the subject were not rancorous enough, now the QUEST study itself is a source of controversy. Prominent scientists, notably Dr. James Fay of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, have disputed its findings and have  pointed out that it was never subject to peer review or submitted to a scientific journal. The author of the study even expressed surprise in an interview at its widespread use and said that it was done on short notice for what he understood to be internal purposes. For reasons that remain unclear, the DOE at one point denied commissioning the study but later backtracked when QUEST confirmed it was hired by the department.

Rep. James Markey, who represents the district in Massachusetts where one of the four U.S. LNG import facilities is located, demanded clarification in public letters to Energy secretary Spencer Abraham and FERC Chairman Pat Wood on Nov. 7. "It's peculiar given that the author of the study said it was a quick and dirty study and not meant for these purposes," said Jeff Duncan of Markey's office.

Professor Fay, an expert on hazardous material dispersion, says the extent of spills could go well beyond proposed site boundaries for sites being planned. He wrote earlier this month: "For all credible spills, including terrorist attacks on the storage tank and LNG tanker, the danger zone for humans extends nearly two miles from the terminal site," a distance several times greater than the QUEST study suggests.

Whatever the outcome of the safety debate, observers of the industry doubt that development can be halted due to the pressing economic need for such facilities. The only exception would be if there were an accident that put a chill on development the way that the Three Mile Island and Chernobyl events stopped the nuclear industry in its tracks.

Ben Smith, an LNG expert and managing partner of gas industry watcher Enercast.com, thinks that protests may delay development or make it more expensive but won't halt it. "You have to compare it to the alternatives and right now LNG is the best option," he said. Still, he says that concerned citizens such as Riley play an important role. "We need these people out there lobbying so that the right precautions are in place."

 (END) Dow Jones Newswires