Safety and Security
Natural gas is safe. In fact, among all energy sources, natural gas in a liquid form has an enviable safety record, with very few incidents over the past decades. Liquefied natural gas is not a new technology; it has been used in the United States since the 1940s.
Because the gas is stored in a cryogenic liquid state, it is not explosive and will not burn. Natural gas will only ignite if the vaporized gas is mixed with air in 5 to 15% concentrations in an enclosed space. Even in the unlikely event a discharge occurs, being lighter than air the natural gas will rapidly dissipate into the atmosphere, greatly reducing the opportunity for it to ignite and burn.
The storage tank is designed with an inner shell of Nickel-Steel, a layer of insulation, and then an outer steel shell. The design makes the tank very, very difficult to breach. Should a breach somehow occur, a dike surrounding the tank will contain any liquid natural gas releases. And, since methane is lighter than air, any spill would evaporate, rise and dissipate.
Stringent design specifications and industry standards define detailed safety and security systems that are employed at the storage facilities, including methane leak detectors, fire suppression equipment, emergency shut-down systems and specialized personnel training.
There has not been a liquefied natural gas accident affecting the general public in this country in more than 70 years. In 1944, the East Ohio Natural Gas Company constructed a tank in central Cleveland which experienced a tank failure. Their old-technology tank was constructed with an extremely low amount of nickel and the steel structure became brittle. Although workers saw a crack in the tank, they took no preventative action. The tank also had no dike retaining wall to contain a discharge. As a result of the Cleveland accident and due to continuing technological and design improvements, today's facilities are designed to better and higher standards with tanks that are exponentially stronger and have more effective safety systems. As in any industrial workplace, from time to time accidents do occur. The liquefied natural gas industry in this country has experienced very few of these accidents over the last 70 years.
Liquefied natural gas is used, stored and transported worldwide with an exceptional safety record.
In this country, permitting, construction, training and operating standards are rigorous for all natural gas facilities. These standards are overseen by federal regulators such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the US Department of Transportation. In this area, the South Florida Water Management District, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Martin County and others will also oversee aspects of FGS permitting, construction and operations.