Common Sense Canadian

New video shows serious dangers posed by LNG tankers

PostedMay 3, 2016 by in International

A new, short video illustrates in vivid detail the dangers posed by plans to run LNG tankers through narrow, densely populated coastal waterways in places like Howe Sound, Saanich Inlet, Prince Rupert and Kitimat. Drawing on data and studies from global leaders in the field of LNG tanker safety, the video superimposes tanker danger zones over planned shipping routes, demonstrating how many coastal communities would face death, injury and property damage in the event of a mishap.

The video was produced by Colton Hash of Grassroots Rendering, which describes itself as “a project aimed to support activist media projects by offering services for computer animation and graphic design.”

The data Hash draws on, emanating from the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) and Sandia Laboratories, has been well-published in these pages – yet this video offers a detailed visual rendering of these grave risks.

Experts in the field

3-zonesSandia Laboratories was commissioned by the US government to study LNG tankers and the likelihood and ramifications of an explosion, in order to develop a series of hazard zones to guide shipping regulations. As a result, no American port would attempt the type of activities now being contemplated in BC. Even the Harper government rejected similar LNG plans on the East Coast of Canada out of safety concerns.

As the video explains, summarizing Sandia’s findings in the event of an explosion, when cold, compressed gas “is exposed to air, it evaporates extremely rapidly, producing explosive gas vapor. Field tests show that pools of LNG can burn for long periods of time.  Flames from large LNG pool fires can reach up to 150 meters high.”

Anything within a 500 meter radius of the tanker could be killed by freezing or suffocation from the cold gas cloud.  If ignited, a large shockwave would be produced as well as a fireball that could burn anything within a 1.6 km radius, causing structural damage and starting forest fires and grass fires.  The remaining LNG pool would continue to burn and spread until all of the fuel is gone. Anything within a 3.5  km radius of the blast could also be affected, but less severely.

Uncharted waters

Industry proponents are quick to suggest that LNG has a relatively safe history. This is problematic for two reasons. First, new plans for shipping LNG on the BC coast violate the most basic global safety standards, rendering the industry’s history irrelevant. By significantly raising the risk level and volume of shipping, we’re entering uncharted waters. Second, as the video notes, “the accident record for the Natural Gas industry is far from spotless,” showing the catastrophic explosion of an LNG tanker truck in China.

There have been a number of industrial accidents in Gas plants, such as the explosion at the Pemex Gas Plant in Renolya, Mexico.  There have also been multiple natural gas pipeline ruptures and subsequent explosions. A comprehensive list of LNG related accidents over the past 70 years includes numerous tanker malfunctions, collisions and catastrophic explosions.

Sandia LNG Reports

Guidance on Risk Analysis and Safety Implications of a Large Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Spill Over Water  (2004) – Sandia National Laboratories Report

Breach and Safety Analysis of Spills Over Water from Large Liquefied Natural Gas Carriers – Sandia Report

Summary: Guidance on Risk Analysis and Safety Implications – Sandia Presentation

DOE/Sandia National Laboratories Coordinated Approach for LNG Safety and Security Research 2008 – Sandia Presentation

DOE/Sandia National Laboratories Coordinated Approach for LNG Safety and Security Research 2009 – Sandia Presentation


About the Author

Common Sense Canadian



    If our B.C. and Federal gov’t would look beyond their own investments they would see they are riding a lame horse with LNG. Here is an article out of Australia this year regarding LNG troubles( ). I can see gov’t debts rise because of their involvement in this industry.

    Carrie Humchitt

    Never mind the damage that fracking itself does to the environment oil and gas worker, it also is in flagrant violation of Aboriginal rights and title and even if there are “sellout” Nations, the number of Nations opposed in itself should be enough to derail this project and the legal battles will delay this for years. If it is so safe then BC and Canada should have no problem adopting International standards of safety as recommended by SIGTTO, but they do not.

    I am part of the Gitxsan Nation and Heiltsuk Nations, myself and others like me will fight this in the courts, on the front lines and anyway we can for our future generations. Destroying the environment with the possibility of LNG Gas Plant explosions and fracking which is well documented insofar as the damage it causes to the environment and toxicity to water supplies is well documented. The LNG Terminal proposed at Lelu Island is a critical salmon habitat and even the location shows the folly of how little common sense is being shown towards ensuring environmental impacts of these projects in BC are being taken into consideration.

    Even the economic argument for LNG is falling flat: “Despite large volumes of shale gas and government hype over the industry, the study found that changing energy markets, global price volatility, increased competition, and LNG cost overruns have dramatically changed the demand picture for high-risk and capital intensive LNG projects around the world.” (From the Tyee, (May 22, 2015).

    “Even Asian demand for natural gas has softened significantly over the last year. Demand for imported gas in Japan is now “flat,” and in Korea it has “dampened,” the report says.”

    First Nations have quite a track record in opposing and successfully legally challenging projects like these and will continue to do so.

    Delgamuukw legally entrenched aboriginal title and rights established in the country’s constitution:

    Delgamuukw confirmed that common law Aboriginal title, recognized as a common law Aboriginal right prior to 1982, was “constitutionalized … in its full form” by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 (par. 133)

    The ruling itself noted: “[A]boriginal title confers more than the right to engage in site-specific activities which are aspects of the practices, customs and traditions of distinctive aboriginal cultures…What aboriginal title confers is the right to the land itself.”

    Coastal First Nations recently signed 2 agreements with LNG without consultation or even the consent of their own Nations, the Heiltsuk Nation being one of them, one of my Nations. I will fight LNG and others like me will also when leadership gets bought off and sells out our future generations for the minimal benefits associated with the LNG projects.

    My view is that many of the Nations who have signed agreements with LNG have not done their homework or due diligence on the project or even consulted their own people on it nor investigated how LNG plants are going to impact not only our air and water but that of all people in the path of LNG projects. This will impact Native and non-Native communities, and I will fight it til my last breath for our future generations.

    Chris Hooymans

    Canada should consider banning all oil and gas exports and seeing the international oil barons on their way.


    Well it gives us another market for a resource that we have plenty of. Don’t deny the fact that it’s dangerous anything is dangerous, flying in airplanes can kill you if the pilot is drinking. But there are standards in place to eliminate errors and probabilities are good that we will make it to our destination. Yes your doomsday scenario could happen but with today’s standards in place very unlikely. Can you remember when the last candu reactor imploded? And the most likely scenario with liquefied natural gas is it just evaporates into the atmosphere, and unlike oil which will kill birds, fish and eventually poison us, gas will not dissolve into the ocean.


      The presentation’s point is that Canada has NO maritime safety standards for LNG and that best practice world standards as followed by the US would not allow LNG terminals and transport from Woodfiber, Prince Rupert or Kitimat.

    Oil and Gas Worker

    You probably don’t hear from many industry professionals on this website. Let me tell you, the hazards listed are grossly exaggerated. Every detail, down to the color of the shipping routes, are presented with precise and deceptive bias.

    All hazard assessments in Canada are made on the expectation of the worst case scenario, which is the reason for the enormous blast zones. We assume instantaneous and complete release of potential energy, in these scenarios. We do this to ensure EVERYONE is informed and prepared for the worst case scenario.

    In order for this type of energy release to occur, you were need to have a full containment breach on all four vessels within the tanker. After that instantaneous breach, you would require instantaneous mixture with oxygen (hurricane force winds might make this possible) and ignition at the perfect air/fuel mixture. This is when the blast radius would be at it’s highest. We prepare for even this scenario, to convey the commitment we have to the public, the environment, and their safety.

    We do this, in spite of how easily this information can be turned into biased media. We do this, in Canada, despite our international position where we’re competing against countries that have zero environmental or safety regulations. Global warming will be fought by clean, responsible energy production. Canada leads in every, single, category.

    Other points I’d like to touch on but I don’t want to rant:

    Canadian oil and gas companies do NOT frack shallow formations. Communication with the water bed is ruled out or we do NOT frac. The videos you see with contaminated water from fracking do note come from our country.

    Canadian oil and gas companies are NOT in control of how we finally sell our product, in many cases. The choice of Canadian oil and gas companies, is pipeline. The Canadian government and liberal party prefer to outlaw this, in favor of the much more dangerous and inefficient railways.

    The many videos you saw here, were from different countries. They were not the product of Canada, and there’s a reason that the author was unable to create this video without relying on the disasters of oil and gas produced abroad.

    The Canadian oil and gas industry is extremely cautious and mindful about the public, the environment, and by extension, their own.

    We welcome criticism because we don’t want to see our industry looking like the ones featured in that video.

    But we ask that you make that criticism fair, and merit based. Not skewed, and fear based.

    Thanks for your time.

      Damien Gillis

      Thank you, Oil and Gas Worker, for sharing your thoughts. We welcome your perspective here.

      While you raise some important and accurate points, allow me to respond to the more problematic ones:

      -Overall, when the consequences of a disaster are as high as they are, the Precautionary Principle must prevail. That means, that “the worst case scenario” must be the baseline for all considerations (PS these hazard zones are from the American regulator, not Canada – we are not adhering to these blast zones here and have a much lower safety standard than they do south of the border, which is deeply troubling in and of itself). Moreover, the onus is on the industry and government to demonstrate to the the satisfaction of the public, scientific community, First Nations, etc. that what they are proposing is overwhelmingly safe. That has not been done here – not remotely, as we have demonstrated in these pages across dozens of well-researched stories.

      -You hold Canada up as the gold standard for safety and environmental protection. This is a mistake, as numerous oil spills and explosions – coupled with our total lack off preparedness have demonstrated. Just ask anyone in Vancouver what happened last year with a relatively minor leak of bunker diesel into English Bay. Moreover, under pressure from the oil and gas industry, our laws, regulatory and monitoring regimes have been absolutely gutted over the past decade – including fisheries habitat protections, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, environmental assessment processes, and provincial and federal monitoring and enforcement agencies. Oil sands-related tailing ponds have been leaking into the Athabasca River for years, under the full knowledge of the federal government, yet nothing is done. Don’t drink that water – or the Kool-Aid that tells you Canada is a global leader. We’re plainly not.

      -On that note, the particular situation this video and story deal with is a case in point. You cannot compare Canada favourably to other jurisdictions when it comes to our LNG tanker plans – in fact it is quite the opposite. What we are proposing to do has never been done. No other country has attempted to run these LNG tankers in such dangerous, narrow coastal passages, combined with densely populated communities. That’s the deadly combo you want to avoid: High navigational risk (PS if you don’t think hurricane or gale force winds are normal on this coast, then you’re not from BC and you’ve never spent time in Douglas Channel or Prince Rupert or even the south coast, especially in winter!) coupled with high consequences for human life and property damage in the event of an accident, however unlikely. That, in essence, is the entire point of this video, which evidently sailed right over your head. Harper rejected this type of plan on the East Coast. The Americans will not allow it either. Why are we so stupid as to attempt it here? Again, in this case, we are the lead standard, not the gold.

      -Finally, as for fracking, we have documented a number of instances of water contamination related to fracking activities – drilling, fracking, wastewater injection, surface level tailing ponds, etc. in BC in these pages. You also apparently didn’t get the memo on seismic activity related to both fracking and deep oil field injection, which throws your communication scenarios and assumptions out the window. My recent film Fractured Land discusses these issues from a hydrology perspective – including pressure differentials and other issues that can indeed lead to communication and upward mobility of contaminated water into the groundwater strata.

      Now, with all that being said, I appreciate the spirit of your comment and agree that we should not jump to conclusions or make pronouncements that aren’t grounded in fact. That said, this video is indeed based on the best available expertise and studies in the world on these issues. It may sound like chicken little – the scenarios discussed may well be unlikely, as you note, and to horrifying to contemplate. But we British Columbians who live in these blast zones (I’m assuming you don’t – and bear that in mind), have a right to a precautionary, science-based approach when planning out energy development and transport in our midst. On that basis, these plans do not pass muster and merit the most stringent criticism.


        “-Overall, when the consequences of a disaster are as high as they are, the Precautionary Principle must prevail. That means, that “the worst case scenario” must be the baseline for all considerations”

        I believe I explained this at length: All hazard assessments in Canada are made on the expectation of the worst case scenario, which is the reason for the enormous blast zones. We assume instantaneous and complete release of potential energy, in these scenarios.

        When we’re talking about all potential energy being released instantaneously, we’re talking about defying the laws of physics. We do this precisely to calm any doubts about whether or not we are adequately assessing the potential hazard.

        Canada literally is the gold standard for environmental and safety within the oil and gas sector. We produce more natural gas and more oil with less damage to the environment and less danger than any other country in the world. I’m not saying that it doesn’t require constant and relentless scrutiny, but it certainly is the gold standard.

        As for the Athabasca River, I know assessments were done prior to any oil sands corporate activity and I’ve seen documents concerning the natural occurrence of oil entering this river. Given that this is a natural occurrence, I would hope that we all expect a certain amount of this to persist. As for the residual chemicals that are used for production and completion, measures already exist to ensure that these don’t enter the water table. I’ve personally overseen fracturing tail ponds in the LNG industry and the requirement is a minimum of 2 1/8ths thick military grade rubber matting from bottom to surface soil of a storage pond. That, along with regular inspection and maintenance. Not only that, but measures are taken to ensure that local wild life cannot enter the ponds. This is a particularly frustrating one, because wind turbine farms just the next block over, are littered with dead birds. Nevertheless, we spare no expense, paying an average of $2300 per 24 hours to have employees on site specifically to keep birds away from the ponds.

        “Finally, as for fracking, we have documented a number of instances of water contamination related to fracking activities – drilling, fracking, wastewater injection, surface level tailing ponds, etc. in BC in these pages. You also apparently didn’t get the memo on seismic activity related to both fracking and deep oil field injection, which throws your communication scenarios and assumptions out the window. ”

        None of these were instances were cited for a reason. They are so far, few, and in between that they fail to serve to purposes of good propaganda.

        I understand the need to get people on board. However, this video was disconnected from reality. It’s deceptive, in a very intentional way. I think that’s obvious, even to you, as the creator.

        For one, pipelines are not equivalent to drilling, completion or production. A natural gas pipeline will contain virtually no liquids. It will contain emergency shut downs all along the way to limit the damage of the most likely breaches of containment imaginable. It will not use water. It will not create pollution. I’ve read plenty material here, and I see an overwhelming bias toward combining all the known hazards of the industry into every single example of oil and gas activity. This is a debate strategy to evoke the worst from your target audience; it’s a strategy to lump all fuel production into the same category, and combat fuel production as a whole. It places all the blame on oil corporations, towns, and people. It places no blame on the actual customers. It glides over that side of the equation so flawlessly, that the vast majority of “passive activists” will vote to destroy oil/gas production without even considering the reality of their unwavering oil/gas consumption. The result, so far, is nearly 50% dependency on foreign oil despite being a country rich in oil. Wrap your head around that one. Canadians are within the top 20 oil consumers in the world. We fall short of isolated sovereign islands, but sit comfortably next to the US. We have done nothing but increase our need for oil, per person, per year. Every man, woman, and child uses a combined average of nearly 3700 barrels a year. 3700 barrels a year for each individual, in a country of more than 30 million people.

        We need alternative energy sources or extreme self sacrifice before we even concern ourselves with “worst case scenario” safety/environmental policies. If global warming looms as such a threat that we can attribute it to the burning down of Fort Macmurray and the war of terror (we, and our politicians, do this) then we need to move to LNG immediately to reduce global warming. Not only that, but we need the entire world to. Simultaneously, we need to begin investing in technologies like Thorium, which means following in the foot steps of a country like India who is already much less energy dependent.

        If we don’t take this course of action, then we need to meet our own decided reality and give up energy use as quickly as possible. The tax benefactors of this tax exempt organization, producing these videos to incite fear and anger, do nothing to address the obvious issue. Energy consumption and global positioning through energy dominance. That’s the name of the game today. The main reasons for doing this politically, are mysterious, and could range from classical reasons for restricting oil use in foreign countries to the modern reason of global warming. Either way, we don’t seem to want developing countries to develop, and LNG would be the key factor there.

        If we continue stifling these countries from embracing the benefits of dense energy sources like LNG and oil, they will continue to hate us. If we stop garnishing all the economic and societal benefits of dense energy sources like LNG/oil, we will lose our global position. There’s a disconnect with reality, when it comes to this notion. The horrors of pollutants from the oil and gas industry are nothing compared to the horrors of having no oil and gas industry. Reality is out there waiting, for first world countries. We do need to maintain our global position, but if the underlying plan is to “prevent global warming,” then it should be done in a way that not only appeases non-oil consuming countries, but also in a way that does not plunge first world country’s into complete chaos.

        Either way, there’s clearly a bigger conversation to be had here. Oil and LNG keep us safe by keeping us in a position where we have something the whole world wants, will pay for, and that we ourselves can use to remain a first world nation. Given the long standing use of oil and our entire infrastructure being built around it, it’s also fair to assume that a significant reduction in standards of living provided through abundant energy could cause massive civil unrest for many valid reasons, including the need for enforcement of carbon emissions laws. Then, you need to weigh all that against the looming threat of global warming, and ask yourself if people could actually hold on to the ideals of preventing global warming while struggling to put for on the table because of the key role oil and gas plays in food production and dispersion.

        These are big questions. These are the topics that your activities inevitably lead to, because regardless of your objective, mass hysteria has resulted. Canada is so terrified of global environmental issues, that they’re willing to accept taking 50% of their oil from Saudi Arabia at true OPEC prices, while providing the US with Canadian oil for a large DISCOUNT, as they are our literally the only country we’re capable of selling it to.

        For any citizen or tax exempt to know the answers to these questions, is unbelievable. I won’t pretend to, but I know that these essential questions aren’t within the scope of activists or their groups, either.

        Our energy policy is complex. I, for one, am thankful that our global position allows us to be the gold standard for environmental and safety regulations. I am not, however, willing to accept sensationalized views on the bigger questions for their underlying ideology. Outwardly, your ideology is murky, scattered between all members, and so disconnected from reality that I find it hard to work within the bounds of them without stumbling upon how they relate to bigger issues. Inwardly, I don’t know what the ideology of these tax exempt leaders are. They’re run more stringently than these “vicious oil companies” that they’re targeting, today, in Canada, and that makes it hard to judge their underlying ideology.

        Either way, my point still stands. Much of this website, including this video, is bad propaganda and it’s not conductive of a realistic conversation about where to go from here.

          Damien Gillis

          You use a lot of words here to circumnavigate a very simple issue: These plans for LNG tankers on the west coast of Canada absolutely violate the global best practices and safety standards for the industry. There is no way around that. No amount of obfuscating on your or any one else’s part can make that OK. This is not propaganda. It’s a well-sourced argument based on the best available science and global standards. You reassert your rhetoric here that Canada is the “gold standard” for oil and gas industry safety. I refuted that with specifics – demonstrating how our legal, regulatory and monitoring framework has been gutted over the past decade. Your response? Repeat the same platitudes as in your first comment. Like I said before, we appreciate and welcome voices from the industry but if this is the shape it’s going to take, then you’re really better off not wasting yours and others’ time. Go back to your trade journals and preach to your own choir.

            Aaron Cosbey

            I found oil and gas worker’s response measured and rational. He/she doesn’t adequately address the argument about safety in our current deregulated environment, but the big questions he/she raises are the right ones, and deserve discussion. Damien’s closing words, by contrast, are ill-considered, and destroy the fragile possibility of rare and necessary dialogue.

              Damien Gillis

              I too was encouraged by the possibility of open dialogue, Aaron, with someone from the industry. The problem is, in the end, there was none to be had. This story was highly specific. It was about one specific issue, marshalling the best, specific facts available from the leading experts on a very specific topic: the safety/danger of running LNG tankers through a specific set of coastal waters. So when you say, “the big questions he/she raises are the right ones”, yet “He/she doesn’t adequately address the argument about safety in our current deregulated environment”, you’re getting to the crux of my concern. This is a common tactic of people seeking to defend dangerous practices of their industry – to obfuscate the specific point at hand by veering into vague, “big picture” tropes. When I directed the very specific issues and facts raised by the article back at the commentor, he chose not to engage honestly with them, instead repeating the same argument as before – Canada’s the ‘gold standard’…” etc. Not good enough and not worthy of his/her or my time. This is very real and very specific: people who live on the coast, like me, my family and friends, are being subjected to plans which violate the most basic and widely accepted safety practices in this global industry. No other country – let alone our own government when it comes to the East Coast – would allow this to happen, simply because IT IS NOT SAFE. The commentor refuses to deal with that, which is highly unfortunate, but that’s not on me.


    Makes me wonder how safe BC Ferries will be with converted to gas ferries.

      John's Aghast

      Probably, extremely. First of all, they will run on CNG, not LNG. Just like almost every transport truck you see on the road today. I suspect the volume of gas will be substantially less than that carried on an LNG ship.

    Cheryl Cameron

    Thank you Damien for featuring this important video. That our provincial government should be marching us headlong into a new carbon-based export industry in the face of climate change – without adhering to internationally accepted regulations – is astounding. Let’s hope everyone remembers this at the ballot box next year. Meanwhile it is up to citizens to continue to hound our elected officials to do what they were elected to do, i.e. to act in the best interests of all citizens rather than as a cheerleader for an industry that will commit us to more fracking and methane emissions.


    OGC issues final approvals for Coastal GasLink

    TransCanada Corporation says it has received the last of the permits it needs from the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission to build and operate the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

    On Thursday, the company said it received the last two of 10 pipeline and facilities permits needed for the project. Eight of those permits allow for pipeline construction, while the other two are for pipeline-related facilities: a natural gas compressor station and meter station in Groundbirch, and a natural gas metering station in Kitimat.

    The 670-kilometre pipeline would bring gas from an the Groundbirch area to the proposed LNG Canada project near Kitimat for export to Asian markets.

    “This is a significant regulatory milestone for our project, which is a key component of TransCanada’s growth plan that includes more than $13 billion in proposed natural gas pipeline projects which support the emerging liquefied natural gas industry on the British Columbia coast,” said TransCanada President and CEO Russ Girling in a statement.
    – See more at:

    Time for civil disobedience yet?


    What is the alternative???

    Teresa the Sailor

    People like Christy Clark think that the sycophants who tell her how great she is as they slip the party cash in order to get what they want for themselves are actually enamored with her personally. They truly aren’t but they know how to play her to get their way and would drop her in a second if she weren’t head of the government, then it would be Christy who? and they’d be slipping dollars to the next person(s). Truly shameful for our beautiful province that we have such a corrupt leader.

    Janice Eckert

    The proposed LNG tanker site at Woodfiber Squamish really makes me scared of what could happen to all the communities living in and around there if there was a liquified gas leak not to mention the devastation to the environment. I’m moving to the Stawamus reserve soon and I’m praying it won’t be built.


    BC Green leader DR Weaver after seeing this should/could/will certainly take a stand.


    Christy would march all of us into hell just to save face. She’s got to go. The Paris Climate Summit meant nothing more than more photo ops to her. She has no intention of meeting the targets.


      I wonder if she popped by the Sorbonne to meet with some of her old former “professors” while she was in Paris………….

Leave a Response