Minister Ryan’s Energy Security review must include risk assessment of LNG explosion

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More than 45 Irish and US-based organizations, health professionals and advocates, including Mark Ruffalo and individuals harmed by fracking, released a letter - available here - calling on Minister Eamon Ryan to instruct the Department of Environment, Climate, and Communications’ to include a risk assessment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) as part of Energy Security Review [1].  The letter was given to Minister Ryan before his speech at Mary Robinson’ Climate Conference on Friday.

The 2022 public consultation as part of the Energy Security Review was written along with an in-depth technical analysis by independent consultants, who recommended against any commercial LNG terminals. However Minister Ryan noted to the press that the final version of the Energy Security Review will include LNG and seemingly changed his position on stopping LNG import terminals as well as lifting the moratorium on fracked gas imports. This caused a backlash by environmental organizations and Green Party TD’s and members since it was part of the agreement to go into a coalition government with Fine Gael and Fiana Fail. The Minister then clarified his position against commercial LNG, but there has been no commitment to reject it as part of the Energy Security Review. 

One of the main reasons cited in the reversal to consider LNG in the review is that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline was attacked, along with a suggestion that Ireland’s gas pipelines could be targeted by terrorists. While highly dubious rationales in themselves, these explanations ignore the fact that LNG terminals and infrastructure would be at least as susceptible to attack by terrorists and foreign actors, posing tremendous impacts on people and the environment.

The new letter to Minister Ryan – available here – details the plethora of LNG risks and evidence that LNG terminals have been identified as terrorist targets. Currently, the Energy Security Review is not considering those risks. The organizations are asking Ryan, in his capacity as the Minister of the Department of Environment, Climate, and Communications, to instruct the Department to include a full risk assessment of an attack or accident at an LNG import terminal and the impacts it would have on the environment and human lives. 

Organizations in Ireland and the U.S. working together to stop LNG in Ireland and in the fracked gas in the U.S. that would supply it wrote the letter. The organizations signed on to the letter include groups from across Ireland - including Friends of the Earth and Extinction Rebellion  - as well as organizations in the U.S. including Sierra Club and Food & Water Watch.

Julia Walsh, the Director of Frack Action said:

“As an organization that works in both the US and Ireland, we see the dangers and damage that fracking and LNG infrastructure pose for our climate and the safety risks to communities. For the sake of the environment and public safety, we want Minister Ryan to keep his promise to prohibit fracked gas that would come into Ireland via LNG import terminals. But as long as his Department is including LNG in the Energy Security Review, he must instruct the Department to include a full risk assessment of LNG as part of the review.”

Jerry Mac Evilly, Head of Policy in Friends of the Earth said:
“Our fear since the beginning of the Government’s energy security review is that it would discount climate obligations and focus on yet more gas infrastructure regardless of the impacts or wider risks, particularly of LNG. We have twin imperatives, energy security and climate security, and the answer to both is not to lock Ireland into depending on expensive, polluting gas for decades to come. The Government energy security must comply with the binding pollution limits set by the Dáil last year and specifically assess the security risk of LNG."

At the recent May 30th Oireachtas Committee on Environment and Climate Action on “Liquefied Natural Gas and Oil Prospecting”, expert witness Professor Barry McMullin, Faculty of Engineering and Computing at Dublin City University, stated, “In terms of geopolitical risk, any geopolitical actor that has both the means and interest in attacking the gas connection infrastructure between Ireland and the UK, by definition, has the means and interest to attack LNG import infrastructure. Therefore, LNG import infrastructure does not actually mitigate that geopolitical risk.”

As noted in the letter, even New Fortress Energy, the only corporation seeking approval for a LNG import terminal in Ireland, acknowledges the risks in disclosures to their investors, stating, “Operation of our infrastructure, facilities and vessels involve significant risk...accidents, fires, explosions or other events or catastrophes… pollution, release of or exposure to toxic substances, or environmental contamination affecting operation."



1.Background about LNG: LNG is a dangerous, highly unstable, and explosive substance. Liquefying the gas requires supercooling it to -162 degrees Celsius, when it becomes a bubbling, explosive liquid. If it spills, the liquid can turn into rapidly expanding clouds of vapor capable of flash-freezing human flesh. LNG vapors can become uncontrollable fires that are so hot that they can burn people up to a mile away. Public health officials, doctors, first responders, and community groups warn that LNG poses terrible safety risks.



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