OPINION: Woodfibre LNG Is Wrong

By: Jef Keighley

Woodfibre LNG’s Size Matters ad alleges it complies in every way with the safety standards set down by SIGTTO – the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators, the global authority on the safe handling of Liquid Natural Gas. Not true!

Canada, lacking our own safety standards for the safe siting of LNG terminals and LNG shipping effectively adopts the SIGTTO standards.  Those standards set down three Hazard Zones, 360 degree safety circles to be maintained around LNG terminals and tankers in transit: Zone 1 - 500 metres, Zone 2 –1,600 metres and Zone 3 – 3,500 metres. Hazard Zones are measured from the terminal or tanker in transit.  Thus an LNG tanker in transit requires a 1,000, 3,200 or 7,000 metre wide swath to ensure proper compliance with SIGTTO Hazard Zones.

LNG is cooled to -160 degrees C.  Properly contained LNG is non-explosive and relatively safe. However, an accidental containment breach will result in immediate re-gasification, creating a combustible gas cloud that can drift with the breeze.   Any ignition source - another boat, a house chimney, a car, a beach fire or cigarette - will ignite the cloud, burning back to the source of the breach, creating intense heat.

Woodfibre LNG says the site it is safe because Howe Sound’s width is 5,200 metres at Woodfibre , narrowing to 1,400 metres, deceptively measured east-to-west to overstate width, but actually closer to 4,000 to 1,100 metres measured shore-to-shore.  LNG tankers necessarily travel the centre of the channel, placing them from 2,600 to just 700 metres from shore, even using Woodfibre LNG’s misleading measurements, both of which violate SIGTTO’s Hazard Zones and therefore represent unacceptable risks to Howe Sound populations.

Regardless of one’s opinion on the efficacy of fracking and LNG exports, Woodfibre is simply an unacceptable site for an LNG terminal.