Letter: LNG ‘stockpile’ raises serious safety questions

Posted 2/10/20

To the editor:

The most important responsibility of government is protecting the public. In the case of the liquid natural gas stockpile in a Portsmouth residential neighborhood, townspeople …

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Letter: LNG ‘stockpile’ raises serious safety questions

Posted

To the editor:

The most important responsibility of government is protecting the public. In the case of the liquid natural gas stockpile in a Portsmouth residential neighborhood, townspeople deserve reassurances that local, state and public utility officials are looking out for our safety.

Following last year’s LNG outage, National Grid parked five LNG tanker trucks on Old Mill Lane as backup in case of another gas outage. This stockpile raises a number of serious safety and other question that so far have not been answered publicly. 

When vaporized, LNG can explode. I’m told by someone who has worked with LNG for decades that it has roughly the same explosive potential as was seen in the recent blast in Houston.

Among the information Portsmouth residents need:

• What safety measures are being taken at the site?

• Is there an emergency plan in case of a problem? If not, why not? If so, what it is? How effective can a plan be if it hasn’t been shared with the affected public?

• How will residents be alerted to a problem at the location?

• Have the fire department, police and other response personnel received training in case of emergency?

• As I understand it, this temporary facility is not subject to the more rigorous maintenance and operational procedures of a permanent one. Given that it is in a residential neighborhood, shouldn’t the strictest regulations apply?

• I’m told that if the same size outage occurs again, five truckloads of LNG would last roughly a day. Doesn’t this mean there would be a steady caravan of tanker trucks from Boston ending up on East Main and Wapping roads, neither of which are likely safe for that type and volume of traffic?

• What safer permanent solutions are being sought? And how long before they can be put in place?

• LNG used to be stored on the Navy base. With security and its own fire department, that seems a better location. It is being looked into?

• If National Grid established a permanent LNG facility on the island, wouldn’t that mean a significant tax benefit for the host municipality?

• Portsmouth residents deserve prompt answers from our public officials. If you agree, let them know: clerkoffice@portsmouthri.com, 401/683-2101.

Bill Welch

180 Mitchell’s Lane

Portsmouth

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