News in Depth
Strong Words: CA Public Utilities Comm'n, CA Coastal Comm'n & CA Energy Comm'n Criticize Portions Of FERC/PoLB LNG draft EIS/EIR; CPUC Calls Proposed Port LNG Site "One Of The Worst Possible Sites Imaginable"
CPUC LNG expert says in worst-case scenario flammable LNG vapor cloud could travel up to 6.5 miles, potentially igniting other sources at shorter distances; says FERC/PoLB used standard that assumes people will begin feeling pain & must run to escape 2d & 3d degree burns from thermal heat of fire over mile away; disputes PoLB risk analysis; CPUC urges Harbor Comm'n to reject EIR and deny Port Master Plan Amendment as violating Coastal Act
CA Coastal Comm'n staff expresses "serious concerns" about adequacy of the EIS/EIR" especially with respect to its analysis of public safety and risk and strongly believes "these inadequacies warrant recirculation of the EIS/EIR"; Coastal Comm'n filing includes Quantitative Risk Analysis disputing assertions in FERC/PoLB draft EIS/EIR
CA Energy Comm'n says it hasn't received safety-related info blocked by FERC-demanded gag-order
LB Citizens for Utility Reform (Bry Myown), LB Wrigley Neighborhood Ass'n & LB activist Gary Shelton also submit comments critical
LNG applicant SES says "In general, we found [draft EIS/EIR] very well-written, easy to understand, complete and balanced," says its proposed LNG facility won't be significant pollution source...and could help clean area air
(December 12, 2005) -- Three state agencies -- the CA Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), the CA Coastal Comm'n and the CA Energy Comm'n -- have filed comments critical of key portions of a FERC/PoLB-prepared draft EIS/EIR regarding a Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility proposed in the Port of LB.
CPUC called the Port of LB site proposed for the 80+ million gallon LNG facility "one of the worst possible sites imaginable" and included new testimony from LNG expert Dr. Jerry Havens indicating that in a worst case scenario, a flammable LNG cloud could travel up to 6.5 miles, potentially igniting sources at shorter distances and triggering cascading damages.
Responding to a PoLB-retained consultant's conclusion that disputed an LNG flammable vapor cloud could travel roughly 6.5 miles without first igniting into a flash fire at a shorter distance, CPUC said there are "2,000 workers in the Port, residential neighborhoods as close as 1.3 miles away, tourist attractions and parks as close as 1.5 miles away, and downtown Long Beach two miles away. A flammable vapor cloud traveling a shorter distance than six miles from the site, before being ignited, can kill or burn a significant amount of people in this densely populated area."
Responding to the argument that an LNG facility is justified because the Port already has an existing crude petroleum terminal and hazardous cargo facilities in the area, CPUC said, "[T]his is precisely one of the reasons why the proposed LNG import terminal should not be sited there. Because the LNG import terminal, as well as the 120 LNG ships bringing LNG to the terminal, would have enormous volumes of LNG, an accident, earthquake, or terrorist-caused spill could have widespread, devastating impacts. An intense LNG pool fire or a flammable LNG vapor cloud spreading and then igniting in an area with petroleum terminals and hazardous materials, could result in numerous fires, spread the fire to other parts of the Port and outside of the Port, cause numerous fatalities and injuries, and destroy infrastructure critical to California's economy."
Dr. Havens, retained by CPUC to provide expert testimony in the LB LNG proceeding, said the mathematical standard used by FERC/PoLB effectively assumes people outdoors (including children, the elderly and infirm) will begin suffering pain but won't panic but will be able to run 100 meters (~300 feet) to escape receiving second and third degree burns from the intense thermal heat from an LNG file over a mile away.
CPUC, which indicated publicly in October 2005 that it opposes locating the LNG facility in the Port of LB, said FERC and PoLB should find the draft EIS/EIR inadequate and refuse certification or require new a draft for recirculation.
CPUC reserved some of its strongest comments for a section urging LB's Harbor Commissioners to reject a draft Port Master Plan Amendment (for which the Port is seeking Coastal Commission approval for the project), saying the proposed LNG facility's risks would violate the California Coastal Act. It stated in part, "Either the POLB staff did not understand that people could feel intense pain and receive second degree burns at a further distance [than indicated in the draft EIS/EIR], or they assumed that everyone was capable of quickly running away within 30 seconds and would know exactly what to do. This latter assumption would effectively exclude from the 'vulnerable' population, the most vulnerable people: senior citizens, the disabled and young children. It also is unreasonable to assume that in a densely populated area, everyone would know what to do."
Saying PoLB's staff comments didn't consider "that a spill of LNG could become a flammable vapor cloud, which could spread off the site and into areas of high-density Port working populations, residential neighborhoods, or Cesar Chavez Park before igniting and becoming a flash fire," CPUC also took aim at the PoLB-proferred risk calculation:
The POLB staff web comments at 17 also assumed that nobody in the vulnerable classes would be impacted, because they somehow concluded that the worst possible events that could happen in 10,000 years were a 60 second leak that ignites immediately, or a vessel collision at the breakwater. This is not based upon science or reality. In the last four years alone, there have been three LNG-related accidents that the POLB staff’s assumption would ask us to believe could not take place in 10,000 years. [cites them]...
These accidents prove that human error alone can cause spills of LNG, and one mile distance may not be a safe enough distance. Havens Supp. at 24-25...
...The DEIS/EIR finds that a terrorist attack has only 7 in a million chances based upon past events, even though the DEIS/EIR at ES-14 states that historical experience provides little guidance in estimating the probability of a terrorist attack on an LNG vessel or onshore storage facility. Quest [Port-retained consultant], which came up with this 7-in-1 million number, contradicts itself by noting it is impossible to predict the probability of occurrence of specific intentional events (such as those perpetrated by vandals or terrorists). DEIS/EIR, Appendix F at 3-9. So, how can there be reliance on any of Quest’s statistical analyses for this project?
CPUC added, "When human error alone makes this risk too large in light of how many people would be in harms' way (i.e., at least 130,000), the added risks of earthquakes or terrorist attacks makes this site one of the worst possible sites imaginable. In light of the safer alternatives, which would not put the general public in harms’ way, the [LB] Board [of Harbor Commissioners] should reject the DPMPA [Draft Port Master Plan Amendment].
CPUC could have had permitting jurisdiction over the proposed LNG project -- instead of merely commenting -- if Congress had not passed legislation earlier this year stripping state agencies and City Councils of power in LNG matters. The action came after the Port of LB let SES proceed with its FERC application without seeking CPUC approval under CA law. (SES is seeking or will seek approval and permits from other CA, regional and local agencies.) FERC said it had exclusive LNG-siting authority under federal law; CPUC sued FERC to decide the issue, but before the court ruled -- and without opposition by the Port of LB -- Congress conclusively changed federal law to remove state and local LNG siting authority via the Energy bill.
The result left CPUC and LB City Hall with the status of commenting parties, although the City Council retains limited review authority over the PoLB EIR (if someone appeals, the Council will decide if the Port EIR is minimally sufficient). If FERC approves its staff's EIS it could issues a federal permit for the LNG facility (with the remedy for opponents in a DC federal court).
CPUC's comments on the relevance of the Coastal Act carry added significance since the Coastal Commission also submitted toughly worded comments, at one point calling parts of the FERC/PoLB EIS/EIR so inadequate that they deserve recirculating the EIS/EIR.
The Coastal Commission staff filing included a 50+ page independently prepared "Quantitative Risk Analysis: A Critical Review of the SES Long Beach LNG Import Project EIS/R
Reliability and Safety Analysis" disputing the PoLB's risk analysis and questioning its methodology in several areas.
"The Coastal Commission staff has serious concerns about the adequacy of the EIS/EIR, especially with the respect to the document’s analysis of public safety and risk. We strongly believe these inadequacies warrant recirculation of the EIS/EIR. Separately, we also provide comments on the Draft Port Master Plan Amendment," the Coastal Commission filing said. It added, "[T]he Coastal Commission staff has identified numerous deficiencies in the Draft EIS/EIR that warrant remedial action. In some issue areas, such as Reliability and Safety, the Draft EIR is so fundamentally inadequate that we believe meaningful public review and comment were precluded. Numerous significant impacts are overlooked and at least one viable alternative is not evaluated that would meet all of the project’s stated objectives and avoid or substantially lessen one or more significant impacts."
The Coastal Commission filing also strongly asserted the agency's prerogatives in the decisionmaking process, saying the LNG project requires Coastal Comm'n certification of an amendment to the Port of Long Beach Master Plan, which the Port must submit to the Coastal Commission after it certifies the EIR.
"In reviewing the amendment request, the Coastal Commission will analyze the proposed project’s environmental effects and evaluate if the proposed siting of the LNG facility within the Port is consistent with the Coastal Act’s Chapter 3 and Chapter 8 coastal resource protection and use policies. [citation omitted]. If the Coastal Commission certifies the Port Master Plan Amendment, the Port then has the authority to grant SES a harbor district permit for the proposed development. However, Port approval of a harbor district permit for an energy facility, including an LNG terminal, can be appealed to the Coastal Commission," the Coastal Commission filing said.
The CA Energy Commission's EIS/EIR comments indicate it had still not received safety-related information sought from FERC and PoLB, which FERC has refused to disclose by calling it "Critical Energy Infrastructure Information" subject to a non-disclosure agreement (gag order) to which CA Energy Commission staff have thus far refused to agree.
It is unclear as we post whether LB decisionmakers -- non-elected, non-recallable Harbor Commissioners or elected, recallable City Councilmembers -- have submitted to a gag order to see the material (an action public officials in some other LNG-affected communities have refused to do). (Previous LBReport.com coverage, click here.)
The filings come on top of a materials filed by the City of LB which said the FERC/PoLB draft EIS/EIR fails to meet requirements of applicable federal and state law...but didn't take a position for or against the LNG proposal itself (separate LBReport.com coverage, click here).
LNG applicant SES (a Mitsubishi-Conoco related firm) filed materials stating "In general, we found [draft EIS/EIR] very well-written, easy to understand, complete and balanced." It included text changes (it called mainly technical in nature) desired by the company...and said its proposed LNG facility won't be a significant pollution source...and could help clean area air.
LB Citizens for Utility Reform (via Bry Myown), LB's Wrigley Neighborhood Association, LB activist Gary Shelton and activists from the San Pedro area also filed comments critical of the draft LNG EIS/EIR. LBReport.com will report these separately.
The filings all met a December FERC/PoLB December 8 filing deadline.
In August, the City Council voted (9-0) to tell their Mayor-chosen, Council approved Harbor Commissioners that safety should be their overriding consideration. However a slim majority of the Council has consistently blocked efforts taking a position opposed to the LNG facility.
On June 7. 2005, five of nine Councilmembers (O'Donnell, Kell, Richardson, Reyes Uranga and Lerch) blocked an effort by four Councilmembers (Lowenthal, Baker, Colonna and Gabelich) to terminate a 2003 Council-approved agreement providing for negotiations with LNG-applicant SES over future gas supplies. The Council majority called such an action premature prior to the draft EIS/EIR. Instead, the Council voted (substitute amended motion by Reyes Uranga) "to continue 'non-binding' discussions, per Memorandum of Understanding of May 13, 2003 regarding the future long-term natural gas contract for the benefit of the citizens of Long Beach and have the city conduct a risk assessment and a hazard assessment, including the fiscal impact by qualified experts as soon as feasibly possible."
In August 2005, by the same 5-4 split, the Council refused to take the opportunity -- allowed under the newly passed federal Energy bill -- to express a Council position on remote siting of LNG facilities. Instead, Vice Mayor Jackie Kell made a substitute motion (carried 5-4) "reserving the right" to take a position on Port siting under CEQA ("wait for EIR"). A law firm retained by SES had sent City Hall a letter contending their client would incur nearly $40 million in damages if the Council took a position at that time opposed to siting an LNG facility in the Port of LB. LB Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R, HB-LB-PV) also wrote a letter to Mayor O'Neill, saying Council action to support remote siting of LNG facilities prior to the EIR would be the "worst form of NIMBY-ism."
FERC (five non-elected Presidential appointees) will decide whether to approve its staff-prepared EIS and grant the LB LNG facility a federal permit. LB's five-member Mayor-chosen, Council-approved Harbor Commission (Comm'r Walter barred from LNG-related votes until June 06 due to previous Conoco stock ownership) will decide whether to approve the EIR under state law...and (LB's City Attorney says) the Harbor Commission holds the ultimate power as Port landlord to approve or deny use of Port property for an LNG facility.
Since May 2003, the Port of LB has facilitated SES' efforts to build and operate the facility under an agreement approved at that time by LB's Harbor Commissioners without first seeking any public assessment of the LNG facility's risks and costs to City Hall and LB residents.
LNG applicant Sound Energy Solutions (SES), a Mitsubishi/Conoco-related firm, filed its own EIS/EIR LNG comments, seeking several text changes in the draft EIS/EIR...and commenting as follows on the draft EIS/EIR's conclusion that the LNG facility's operations would create a cumulatively significant (negative) air quality impact. SES' filing stated:
The Draft EIR/EIS identifies impacts related to non-criteria air pollutants released from the Project as cumulatively significant. It is important to recognize that the significant cumulative impact arises only because the existing average background cancer risk of 1,200 in a million in the Long Beach area is significant, not because the project itself causes a significant cancer risk. To the contrary, Project emissions result in a maximum residential cancer risk of 1.5 in a million and maximum workplace risk of 2.5 in a million, which is less than 10 in a million, the level at which a project cancer risk becomes significant. See EIS/EIR at 4-
Thus, Project emissions alone result in an insignificant cancer risk.
Moreover, the Project has the potential to reduce the background cancer
risk because LNG is a replacement for diesel fuel in medium- and heavy duty
vehicles. The SCAQMD's MATES II study concluded that mobile
sources were the largest contributors to the significant background cancer
risk of 1,400 in a million, with 70% of this risk attributed to diesel
particulate emissions. See EIS/EIR at 4-101.
The LNG facility will provide a stable supply of up to 150,000 gallons per
day of LNG for distribution to LNG fueling stations in southern California.
The supply capacity can be expanded as the demand for vehicle grade
LNG increases. The use of LNG in place of diesel fuel has the potential to
reduce diesel particulate emissions and, therefore, the cancer risk
associated with such emissions. In fact, the reduction in cancer health risk
in the port area resulting from the substitution of LNG for diesel fuel could
potentially exceed the increase calculated to result from Project emissions,
but this trade-off of health risk increases and decreases was not
quantitatively evaluated in the DEIS/EIR. The net change in health risk is
apt to be more favorable as a result of the proactive role of SES Terminal
LLC in helping the transition of port yard hostlers (the specialized truck
tractors that move containers in port terminals and intermodal transfer
facilities) from diesel fuel to LNG.
Extended portions of salient California agency filings follow below:
The CA Public Utilities Commission's staff filing stated in pertinent part, "[W]here as here, there is a choice between an LNG import terminal in a densely populated area or a remote onshore or offshore location, common sense, and the law, would require that the LNG import terminal be sited in the more remote location." It continues in detail:
Sound Energy Solutions' (SES) proposed LNG import terminal at the Port of Long Beach would be in a densely populated, urban area, and would pose a risk to the health and safety of the approximately 130,000 people living, working or visiting in the area within approximately three miles of the proposed site. There are more than 85,000 people living within three miles of the proposed site, with residential neighborhoods as close as 1.3 miles away in the City of Long Beach and two miles away in the City of Los Angeles. There are also approximately 44,000 people who work within three miles of the proposed site, including approximately 2,000 daily workers at the Port of Long Beach within one mile of the proposed site. Numerous tourist attractions, such as the aquarium, and parks and recreational activities are as close as 1.5 miles away, and downtown Long Beach itself is just two miles away. Phelps Affidavit at 3-5; State’s Safety Advisory Report at 6-8. There are pending proposals for LNG import terminals more than 10 miles offshore, which do not pose such risks to the general public onshore. Havens Testimony at 16-17. Consequently, under the applicable federal and state statutes, which center on protecting the safety of the general public and the environment...SES's proposed project should be rejected.
...The State's [CA Energy Commission] Safety Advisory Report at 16 points out that the Port of Long Beach is also home to many facilities dealing with hazardous chemicals, and there could be a cascading effect with even more severe consequences if a fire were to make contact with hazardous materials within the Port of Long Beach. Notwithstanding the State raising this concern, the DEIS/EIR has no discussion concerning the hazardous chemicals in the Port of Long Beach. In fact, the subject is avoided...
When flammable LNG vapor cloud spreads beyond the site and is ignited within the Port, it can become a flash fire, and cause a chain reaction. Immediately adjacent to the proposed site on Pier T are terminals used for unloading lumber and oil, which can spread the fire. State's Safety Advisory Report at page16. Numerous other items in the Port are flammable, as well. A fire originating in the Port can spread and cause additional fires fueled by the other cargo and flammable materials. The wind could spread the fires even further. Phelps Testimony at 9-13.
CPUC cited sworn testimony by Dr. Jerry Havens, a respected LNG expert retained by CPUC, who testified that the heat standard used in the FERC/PoLB draft EIS/EIR effectively means some people not inside buildings could suffer second and third degree burns unless they are able to run from the radiant heat of a catastrophic LNG fire.
"The DEIS/EIR significantly underestimates the distances at which people could receive second-degree burns or worse from an LNG pool fire, by relying upon the NFPA 59A thermal radiation flux standards. These standards do not protect all of the general public from such injuries, and they have been defended by the industry based upon the assumption that people will know what to do and are capable of running 100 meters away from the heat of the fire within 30 seconds. Havens Supp. at 10-11." CPUC continued in detail:
The CPUC’s expert witness, Dr. Jerry Havens, has been studying LNG safety issues for approximately 30 years. Dr. Havens explained that there was scientific consensus that people exposed to a lower thermal flux level than 1600 Btu/hr/ft2, but over a longer period of time than 30 seconds, could receive second-degree burns or worse. See Havens Testimony at 10-13. For example, according to the ABS Consulting study, exposure to the thermal radiation flux of 1600 Btu/hr/ft2 will cause intense pain within 13 seconds, first degree burns in 20 seconds, second degree burns in 30 to 40 seconds and third degree burns (1% fatality) in 50 seconds. Exhibit PUC-7 at 32. Citing FEMA, the ABS Consulting study’s Table 2.2 shows that exposure to the thermal radiation flux of 1300 Btu/hr/ft2 will cause intense pain within 18 seconds and second degree burns in 57 seconds, whereas exposure to the thermal radiation flux of 1000 Btu/hr/ft2 will cause intense pain within 27 seconds and second degree burns in 92 seconds. Exhibit PUC-7 at 30.
In view of the above, only measuring distances based upon a 1600 Btu/hr/ft2 thermal radiation flux level or higher, like the DEIS/EIR has done, does not reveal the full distances away from the pool fire for which people would still be in harms’ way. At a further distance from the pool fire, the exposure over a longer period of time to a thermal radiation flux level lower than 1600 Btu/hr/ft2, but higher than 480 Btu/hr/ft2, is unsafe, which is why Dr. Havens states there needs to be a three mile exclusion zone. Havens Testimony at 10-13.
Regardless of whether or not the current NFPA 59A standard of 1600 Btu/hr/ft2 is used for siting most LNG facilities in the United States, it is particularly ill-suited for siting an LNG import terminal in a densely populated area, such as in the present case. In a remote setting, it may be possible to mitigate the impacts to a few nearby people from a pool fire. It is inconceivable that the 130,000 people within three miles of a large pool fire at SES’s proposed site could be protected. Havens Testimony at 16; Havens Supp. at 25-26.
This is clear when considering the LNG industry’s recent rejection of an amendment, which proposed to lower the thermal flux level in the NFPA 59A minimum standards. The NFPA Committee's rejection relied upon the following reasoning in a paper it attached to its report: "However, it is also known that when human beings are exposed to a heat episode they tend to take evasive action within 5 seconds of exposure. It is estimated that a person can ambulate at a speed of 4 m/s in an emergency . . . . Therefore in a 30 second exposure a person can safely run away to a distance of 100 m at which distance the radiant intensity will be far less and thus avoid suffering a second degree burn. . . ." See Exhibit PUC-8, at p. 59A-5.
In a densely populated area, there undoubtedly would be children of insufficient age, as well as senior citizens and people with disabilities, who would not be capable of running out of the way as quickly as the NFPA Committee assumed. Moreover, most people would not know what to do and may panic if they started feeling intense pain or received burns from a fire more than one mile away. See Havens Supp. at 11-12.
CPUC also cited Dr. Havens testimony indicating that in a worst-case scenario, a flammable vapor cloud could spread more than six miles away, "The DEIS/EIR, Appendix F at 6-8 also recognizes that in the worst-case scenario a flammable vapor cloud could spread more than six miles away. However, the DEIS/EIR never considers all of the scenarios under which a flammable vapor cloud could spread and ignite somewhere between the site and six miles away from the site. DEIS/EIR, Appendix F at 1-4." It continues in detail:
In Appendix F of the DEIS/EIR, there are two tables showing Quest's [PoLB-retained] analysis of worst-case impacts, which assume a maximum distance for a flash fire caused by a flammable vapor cloud from SES's proposed LNG import terminal of either 34,600 feet (see Table 6-4 at p. 6-8) or 36,400 feet (see Table 7-1 at p. 7-4). In either case, the maximum distance for a flash fire shows that people could be burned or killed more than six miles away from the proposed site. While Quest speculates that this worst-case scenario could never happen, it also admits that it did not review many of the events or possibilities of releases of LNG for smaller quantities than under the worst case scenario, and it only used publicly available information. DEIS/EIR, Appendix F at 1-4, 7-1. Moreover, Quest disputes that a flammable vapor cloud could spread as far as 36,400 feet without being ignited and turning into a flash fire at a shorter distance. DEIS/EIR, Appendix F at 7-5. That may well be the case, but there is a lot of distance between the proposed site and the 36,400 feet maximum distance where, under some scenarios, the vapor cloud could spread before igniting.
The DEIS/EIR never addresses all of the other scenarios in between these two extremes (staying on the site or spreading 36,400 feet) and there undoubtedly would be many. For example, Dr. Havens has calculated a flammable vapor cloud that could spread for 3 miles from a spillage of 3 million gallons, which Sandia Laboratories found was possible. Havens Testimony at 11. A 75,000-gallon and a 550,300-gallon spill on the site could form a vapor cloud and leave the site. Havens Supp. 17-18. In between Quest's two extremes are also the 2,000 workers in the Port, residential neighborhoods as close as 1.3 miles away, tourist attractions and parks as close as 1.5 miles away, and downtown Long Beach two miles away. A flammable vapor cloud traveling a shorter distance than six miles from the site, before being ignited, can kill or burn a significant amount of people in this densely populated area.
CPUC also cited the potential for economic disruption from a catastrophic LNG event, "The DEIS/EIR never addressed the devastating economic impact that could occur in light of all the commercial activities and critical infrastructure already existing in the Port of Long Beach." It continues:
The State's [CA Energy Comm'n] Safety Advisory Report at 16-20 refers to the significant commercial activity and critical marine petroleum infrastructure at the Port of Long Beach, and how a catastrophic release of LNG could be devastating to the West Coast and to the economy. More than 25% of all cargo containers moving through the ports on the West Coast, approximately $96 billion in trade, was transported through the Port of Long Beach. Approximately 60% of imported crude oil and 80% of imported refined petroleum products are shipped to California through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to marine terminals, which are within three miles of the proposed LNG import terminal site. Nowhere in the DEIS/EIR is there any discussion of this economic impact.
This is significant for two reasons. First, of course, it is very important that decisionmakers understand all of the possible adverse consequences if they were to decide to authorize an LNG import terminal at the Port of Long Beach. Even if the impacts of an LNG accident were confined to the Port, it could have devastating impacts to the 2000 workers in the Port, and to the economy of the State of California and the United States.
Secondly, Quest's speculation, that terrorists would not be interested in attacking an LNG tanker or an LNG import terminal at the Port of Long Beach, ignores that the Port already may be a potential target even before the LNG import terminal is even built. The LNG terminal at the Port of Long Beach could further increase the risk of a terrorist attack as well as cause much more devastation from such an attack, and Quest’s statistics about other facilities not being attacked or targeted by terrorists are irrelevant. Yet, this impact is not even addressed.
CPUC's filing took issue with the draft EIS/EIR's risk analysis, saying FERC/PoLB's analysis "fails to take into account the combination of factors, which increase the risks." CPUC said:
In Appendix F of the DEIS/EIR at 3-13, Quest alleges that the chances of a successful terrorist attack on the Port of Long Beach are seven in a million per year, based upon the fact that 12,711 facilities since 1993 had not been successfully attacked. However, the DEIS/EIR at ES-14 contradicts Quest’s ability to calculate the odds of a terrorist attack, by stating "[u]nlike accidental causes, historical experience provides little guidance in estimating the probability of a terrorist attack on an LNG vessel or onshore storage facility. Even Quest contradicts itself by noting it is impossible to predict the probability of occurrence of specific intentional events (such as those perpetrated by vandals or terrorists). DEIS/EIR, Appendix F at 3-9.
Of course, Quest never showed that terrorists ever tried to attack those 12,711 facilities and were unsuccessful. If terrorists did not even try to attack 12,710 of those facilities, it would not demonstrate the odds of their success if and when they choose to attack the facility. Moreover, Quest's statistics of facilities that terrorists did not choose to attack are meaningless, because Quest has never shown that any of the other potential targets would be comparable to an LNG import terminal at the Port of Long Beach considering that: (1) the Port of Long Beach is critical to the economy; (2) the Port of Long Beach is in a densely populated urban area; (3) the proposed LNG import terminal would store enough LNG to be able to either produce a flammable vapor cloud which can cover any area more than a six miles area away from the site, or result in a pool fire, which can cause fatalities or burns to people up to three miles away; (4) there will up to 120 LNG tankers per year bringing new LNG supplies to the Port of Long Beach and (5) the Port has hazardous and flammable materials in the vicinity of the site, which could add to the fire.
CPUC says an "evacuation plan would not be able to mitigate the adverse impacts in many of the situations in which an LNG spill can occur. Many of these adverse impacts would happen so quickly that first responders would simply not be able to respond in time to evacuate anyone who was in harm’s way. The thermal flux from the pool fire can cause burns in less than a minute. A vapor cloud can spread in minutes and suddenly turn into a flash fire. An explosion can happen suddenly, as well. Except for the spreading of the fire and other consequential or cascading effects, after the initial explosion or fire, much of the initial adverse impacts would not be mitigable. See Havens Supp. at 25-26. It continues:
The DEIS/EIR does not admit that the adverse impacts cannot be mitigated, but does not address how the evacuation plan can be effective. Particularly in the case of a significant LNG spill, how can this densely populated area in the City of Long Beach and the City of Los Angeles be evacuated? The DEIS/EIR gives no opportunity for comments, because it leaves this until later without any guidelines as to how the evacuation plan should work. This is contrary to the requirements under CEQA. The EIR may not defer analysis and mitigation of impacts. When no standards, criteria or alternatives to consider are set out for mitigation measures, the EIR is insufficient. [citation omitted]
CPUC also urges LB's Harbor Commission to reject a draft Port Master Plan Amendment for submission to the CA Coastal Commission. CPUC called the draft Master Plan Amendment contrary to the California Coastal Act. "The location of SES's proposed LNG import terminal poses too much risk to people living, working or visiting recreational areas near the proposed site...[The Coastal Act] clearly requires consideration of public safety along with private property rights, orderly economic development, and environmental and public access concerns," CPUC says. It continues in detail:
In the POLB staff web comments at 11-13, they attempt to justify the siting of the proposed LNG import terminal at the Port of Long Beach, because there is an existing crude petroleum terminal and hazardous cargo facilities in the area. However, this is precisely one of the reasons why the proposed LNG import terminal should not be sited there. Because the LNG import terminal, as well as the 120 LNG ships bringing LNG to the terminal, would have enormous volumes of LNG, an accident, earthquake, or terrorist-caused spill could have widespread, devastating impacts. An intense LNG pool fire or a flammable LNG vapor cloud spreading and then igniting in an area with petroleum terminals and hazardous materials, could result in numerous fires, spread the fire to other parts of the Port and outside of the Port, cause numerous fatalities and injuries, and destroy infrastructure critical to California’s economy. Havens Supp. at 6-7; Phelps’ Testimony at 2-3, 5-13.
Indeed, in Quest’s comparison of the distance of the worst case adverse effects from SES’s LNG import terminal to other facilities with flammable materials, SES’s proposed LNG import terminal’s impacts were at least four times more widespread than the next closest facility. Havens Supp.at 8-9. It is also for this reason, that the siting of the LNG import terminal in the industrial area in this instance would still be too close to existing developed areas where people live, work or enjoy recreational activities. See Havens Testimony at 10-11, 16; Phelps Testimony at 13-15.
The POLB staff web comments at 12 concede that the Port of Long Beach is an area of high geologic hazards. However, they point out that the design criteria for the terminal will follow the Port's protocol, which is more stringent than criteria required by the FERC. They also assert that the probability of the earthquake causing the LNG storage tanks to fail is once every 15,000 years.
There are numerous problems with this analysis. First, as discussed above, there is nothing certain about how the foundation for the proposed LNG terminal will be constructed. Secondly, in terms of the LNG storage tank failure, the odds of one in every 15,000 years are apparently based upon an analysis prepared by SES, which has not been provided to the parties and has never been subject to discovery or cross-examination in a hearing. Thirdly, this is theoretical and assumes that there would be no human errors in the design of the facilities, the understanding of the 27 active earthquake faults in the area, or the construction of the LNG import terminal.
Finally, this one-in-15,000 years claim overlooks all of the other LNG spills and NGL spills, to which an earthquake could contribute, such as: a 550,310 gallon or more spill if it happens when the LNG is being unloaded from the ship; a 75,000 gallon spill when the LNG is being transferred from the storage tanks to the vaporizer; NGLs on site being released and causing a fire or explosion; or LNG tanker trucks spilling LNG.
It is one thing to take a risk with the construction of a project in a high seismic area, where an error would not have widespread impacts or there is no alternative. However, in the case of SES’s LNG import terminal, which could have such widespread and devastating impacts and could instead be sited away from population centers, there is no reason to take this risk. Havens Supp. at 24-25...
In addition, POLB staff cannot even point to anything in the DEIS/EIR or elsewhere which shows that there would be a sufficient exclusion zone for the ten-minute spill for a ship unloading line (aka "marine transfer line"). While the DEIS/EIR, Table 4.11.5-1 at page 4-139, lists the spill size for a "marine transfer line" as 550,310 gallons, the DEIS/EIR at page 4-142 inexplicably refers to a spill from a marine transfer line as only being 39,600 gallons with a design spill of 75,000 gallons. Havens’ Supp.at 17. Because the LNG vapor cloud from a 75,000 gallon LNG spill would leave the LNG import terminal property, then obviously, a 550,000 gallon LNG spill would be flammable and spread over even a much greater distance.
POLB staff web comments do not claim that SES’s proposal has complied with federal exclusion zone requirements for spills from the LNG ships. That is because there are none...
...The Port of Long Beach’s Risk Management Plan (RMP) requires that the hazards of a proposed facility cannot impact "vulnerable resources" defined as residential, recreational, and visitor populations, and high-density Port working populations, critical regional facilities and high value facilities. The POLB staff web comments at 24 attempt to justify the DPMPA’s compliance with the RMP with the use of the thermal flux standard of 1600 Btu/hr/ft2 to compute impacts.
As discussed above, residential, recreational, and visitor populations, and high-density Port working populations can be impacted and receive second degree burns from thermal flux levels below the 1600 Btu/hr/ft2. There is scientific consensus that people exposed to a lower thermal flux level than 1600 Btu/hr/ft2, but over a longer period of time than 30 seconds, could receive second-degree burns or worse. See Havens Testimony at 10-11; Exhibit PUC-7 at 30 (ABS citing FEMA). Either the POLB staff did not understand that people could feel intense pain and receive second degree burns at a further distance, or they assumed that everyone was capable of quickly running away within 30 seconds and would know exactly what to do. This latter assumption would effectively exclude from the "vulnerable" population, the most vulnerable people: senior citizens, the disabled and young children. It also is unreasonable to assume that in a densely populated area, everyone would know what to do.
The POLB staff web comments also did not consider that a spill of LNG could become a flammable vapor cloud, which could spread off the site and into areas of high-density Port working populations, residential neighborhoods, or Cesar Chavez Park before igniting and becoming a flash fire.
The POLB staff web comments at 17 also assumed that nobody in the vulnerable classes would be impacted, because they somehow concluded that the worst possible events that could happen in 10,000 years were a 60 second leak that ignites immediately, or a vessel collision at the breakwater. This is not based upon science or reality. In the last four years alone, there have been three LNG-related accidents that the POLB staff’s assumption would ask us to believe could not take place in 10,000 years. First, there was an LNG fuel truck in Spain in 2002, which was in an accident, caught on fire and then exploded into a fireball (i.e., a BLEVE), which severely burned two people. See Exhibit PUC-3 at 26-29. Havens Supp. at 22-23.
Secondly, on January 19, 2004, there was a vapor cloud, explosion and massive fire at an LNG export facility in Algeria, which killed 27 people and injured 56 others. See Phelps Supp., Exhibit D. Nowhere is this recent tragedy even considered in the theoretical statistical analysis.
Thirdly, on September 14, 2005 in Fernley, Nevada, there was an LNG fuel truck, which leaked LNG that later ignited into a fire, with heat so intense, that firemen and firewomen with protective gear evacuated the area to approximately ˝ mile away, and "moved further back several times, finally staging approximately one mile from the scene." See Angelopulo Declaration, Exhibit PUC-12 at 8-9 (pp.6-7 on the bottom). This was likewise ignored in the DEIS/EIR, even though SES’s LNG project would include filling on its site similar LNG tanker trucks’ 10,000 gallon cargo tanks, and up to 16 tanker trucks per day would thereafter leave the Port and transport the cargo through metropolitan Los Angeles and elsewhere.
These accidents prove that human error alone can cause spills of LNG, and one mile distance may not be a safe enough distance. Havens Supp. at 24-25. The LNG tanker truck in Nevada had 10,000 gallons in its tank. A 10-minute spill from a ship unloading line at SES’s proposed LNG import terminal could release 550,310 gallons, more than 55 times more LNG that the Fernley fire. DEIS/EIR at 4-138. That spill could happen just from human error, and federal regulations require exclusion zones for that type of spill. However, the SES’s proposed LNG import terminal would not even comply with this minimum federal regulation. Havens Supp. at 16-18.
This is not even considering that earthquakes or terrorist attacks could also cause that 10-minute spill or even greater spills. Sandia National Laboratories found it was credible that a terrorist attack could cause 3 million gallons of LNG to spill with a possibility of even more if there were a cascading effect on two more storage tanks on the ship. Exhibit PUC-3 at 4-5. For this reason, Dr. Havens recommends a three-mile minimum distance between an LNG import terminal and a densely populated area. Havens Testimony at 4.
The DEIS/EIR finds that a terrorist attack has only 7 in a million chances based upon past events, even though the DEIS/EIR at ES-14 states that historical experience provides little guidance in estimating the probability of a terrorist attack on an LNG vessel or onshore storage facility. Quest, which came up with this 7-in-1 million number, contradicts itself by noting it is impossible to predict the probability of occurrence of specific intentional events (such as those perpetrated by vandals or terrorists). DEIS/EIR, Appendix F at 3-9. So, how can there be reliance on any of Quest’s statistical analyses for this project?
Based upon Dr. Havens’ testimony and exhibits (Exhibits PUC-1 through PUC-10), including Sandia National Laboratories’ report for the U. S. Department of Energy (Exhibit PUC-6), and the ABS Consulting study under contract with FERC (Exhibit PUC-7), there is no way that the Board could conclude that residential, recreational, and visitor populations, and high-density Port working populations could not be impacted from SES’s proposed LNG import terminal.
By the same token, critical or high value facilities within the Port Long Beach or adjacent to it can be severely impacted by LNG spills. When considering the enormous volumes of LNG involved at an import terminal, such as the one proposed by SES, it makes no sense whatsoever to site it in a Port, which is already a potential target of terrorists, because it is so vital to the California and United States economy. It also violates the Port Long Beach’s RMP, and, therefore, the Board should reject the draft Port Master Plan Amendment No. 20.
When human error alone makes this risk too large in light of how many people would be in harms’ way (i.e., at least 130,000), the added risks of earthquakes or terrorist attacks makes this site one of the worst possible sites imaginable. In light of the safer alternatives, which would not put the general public in harms’ way, the Board should reject the DPMPA [Draft Port Master Plan Amendment].
CA Coastal Commission filing
...Overall, the analysis of public safety in the Draft EIS/EIR is inadequate; it fails to disclose worst-case impacts as required by the CEQA. The approach in the reliability and safety analysis is essentially qualitative with no quantitative significance criteria or comparison of potential impacts to any measurable level of risk. The reliability and safety section also intentionally excludes any analysis of large, credible accidents that would have the potential to adversely affect the public, even though the Port’s consultant, Quest Consultants, provided both accident frequency and consequence modeling results that clearly support a finding of significant risk, even using the EIS/EIR qualitative significance criteria.
Catastrophic events, such as an earthquake-induced storage tank failure or terrorist attack, are identified in the Draft EIS/EIR as credible events that would clearly "result in a substantial increase in the potential for incidents that would cause serious injury or death to members of the public." Therefore, these events should be considered potentially significant impacts, and additional mitigation measures and/or alternatives should be considered. Similarly, these large credible events would also likely affect Fire Department facilities within the port, thus substantially diminishing the level of fire services available during an emergency. Again, catastrophic events should be considered a potentially significant impact requiring consideration of additional mitigation and/or alternatives.
The significance criteria presented in Section 4.11.1 do not provide any quantitative
measures that can be used to determine the potential significance of accidental releases from
the proposed LNG import terminal. Without any quantitative measure, the evaluation of
potential impacts is meaningless. The Draft EIS/EIR analysis should be revised to include
standard risk analysis methodologies, such as the "Guidelines for Chemical Process
Quantitative Risk Analysis" prepared by the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. The
Port’s Risk Management Plan release frequencies, which are not included in the significance
criteria, are correctly applied, but do not meet the worst-case analysis requirements of the
CEQA. By excluding all large credible events, the EIS/EIR precludes meaningful public
disclosure, review, and comment on the accidents that would have the greatest impact on
The Draft EIS/EIR notes that "[t]he FERC staff does not agree with analyzing worst-case,
high-consequence, low-probability events without accounting for the beneficial effect of
preventive or mitigation measures as part of a risk management process." As a result, many
of the credible worst-case high consequences calculated in the Hazards Analysis prepared by
Quest Consultants are not considered credible events by the FERC. Using this approach in
combination with the significance criteria in the EIR, one could also conclude that there
would be no significant impact associated with other hazardous facilities, such as nuclear
power plants. By excluding all high consequence events, even those with probabilities
considered credible by agencies such as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the analysis is
guaranteed to result in all impacts being considered less than significant.
Thus, no valid conclusion can be reached regarding the project’s potential impacts on public safety when a majority of release scenarios are summarily dismissed from any serious
analysis. In the absence of a quantitative risk analysis or thorough evaluation of all credible events, any conclusions related to public safety are highly qualitative and speculative...
...[T]he Coastal Commission staff has identified numerous deficiencies in the Draft EIS/EIR
that warrant remedial action. In some issue areas, such as Reliability and Safety, the Draft EIR is so fundamentally inadequate that we believe meaningful public review and comment were
precluded. Numerous significant impacts are overlooked and at least one viable alternative is not evaluated that would meet all of the project's stated objectives and avoid or substantially lessen one or more significant impacts.
CEQA Guidelines Section 15088.5(a) states:
"A lead agency is required to recirculate an EIR when significant new information is
added to the EIR after public notice is given of the availability of the draft EIR for public
review under Section 15087 but before certification. As used in this section, the term
"information" can include changes in the project or environmental setting as well as
additional data or other information."
Significant new information requiring recirculation includes, for example, a disclosure showing that:
(1) A new significant environmental impact would result from the project or from a
new mitigation measure proposed to be implemented.
(2) A substantial increase in the severity of an environmental impact would result
unless mitigation measures are adopted that reduce the impact to a level of
(3) A feasible project alternative or mitigation measure considerably different from
others previously analyzed would clearly lessen the environmental impacts of the
project, but the project's proponents decline to adopt it.
(4) The draft EIR was so fundamentally and basically inadequate and conclusory in
nature that meaningful public review and comment were precluded. (Mountain
Lion Coalition v. Fish and Game Com. (1989) 214 Cal.App.3d 1043)
We believe all four conditions apply in this case and that a recirculation of the EIS/EIR is warranted.
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