Liquefied petroleum gas, including propane, is regulated in the state of Florida (Title XXXIII, Chapter 527), but no such statute exists to regulate liquefied natural gas (LNG) production, storage and transport facilities. While Congress allocated jurisdictional authority over LNG facilities to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission under the Natural Gas Act, the commission has abdicated that authority for a new breed of inland LNG export facilities that are being sited, constructed and operated on very small parcels of land in densely populated areas of Florida.

LNG is hazardous, flammable, cryogenic liquefied methane gas and must be kept under pressure and temperature-controlled conditions. Containers of LNG may explode if exposed to sustained heat or if temperature control is not maintained.

The most effective extinguishing agent for LNG fires, and typically the only practical one, is a dry chemical agent. From Guide 115 – Gases – Flammable (including Refrigerated Liquids) Potential Hazards: “If tank, rail car or tank truck is involved in a fire, isolate for 1,600 meters (1 mile) in all directions; also, consider initial evacuation for 1,600 meters (1 mile) in all directions.”

An LNG export facility has been proposed for Crystal River at 1 million gallons per day authorized by the Department of Energy (DOE) on

Oct. 21, 2014, via Order 3537 for export in ISO containers on vessels, and twice as much pending approval.

According to Strom Inc.’s April, 2019, semi-annual report filed with the DOE:

Strom has secured certain preliminary agreements for equipment and selected AECOM to fill the role of EPCM for the project.

The project will be constructed on 174 acres located at 6700 Tallahassee Road in Crystal River, and Strom has reached a tentative agreement with the Port of Tampa for long-term shipping leases for LNG.

Strom’s parent company Glauben Besitz, LLC (Glauben) has also entered into a term sheet agreement to pursue marketing and distribution of LNG in China. Through third-party legal counsel and other paths, Strom has continued discussions with electric power suppliers in China, Latin America, and several Caribbean countries. Specifically, Strom has received specific interest from LNG users in the Bahamas, Belize, and Panama, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Honduras and is pursuing all qualified leads.

We understand that the Tallahassee Road land sale may have fallen through, and citizens are concerned that the project or another could be sited, constructed and operated in any Land District that allows LNG. The approved Holder Industrial Park (HIP) is a much-needed economic development project, but the HIP Subarea plan prohibits LNG plants in IND Tier I (light industrial) but does not prohibit LNG plants in IND Tier II (heavy industrial tier). (See minutes packet pages 786-787, Sept. 10 BOCC public hearing, CPA/AA-19-02).

The ordinance amendment OA-19-03 with amendment to the Land Development Code coming before the Planning and Development Commission at 9 a.m., Thursday, Oct. 3, includes proposal to address the uses of oil refinery and liquid natural gas plants as directed by the PDC: Section 2414, Heavy Industrial District (IND), and Section 2415, Extractive District (EXT).

If Strom’s proposed LNG export project, or any other LNG project, moves forward, the public must be given an opportunity to be involved in the process. Citizens want assurance that the federal laws in place to protect public safety and health are being followed, especially exclusion (buffer) zones for thermal radiation and flammable vapor cloud expansion.

In Florida, gas is regulated by the Florida Department of Agriculture, but the problem is that LNG is not regulated by statute in our state. This is unfair and dangerous for citizens who have become unwitting participants in hazardous LNG situations in Florida, including siting LNG export facilities on very small parcels of land in densely populated areas, coupled with the transport of LNG by truck and/or rail through our neighborhoods.

As long as LNG is containerized, it is a pretty safe alternative fuel. The problem is that, once the genie gets out of the bottle, you can’t put it back in. If an LNG container is breached, accidentally or intentionally, the liquid begins to warm and expand, resulting in a flammable vapor cloud that can be blown by the wind, and can ignite whatever is in its path. In Fernley, Nevada, the flammable vapor cloud fire from a leaking tanker truck loaded with 10,000 gallons of LNG appeared to have been caused by a spark, possibly static electricity, from an unknown source. Flames shot 40 feet into the air and fire officials evacuated the area. Due to the tanker’s pressurized contents, the risk of a massive explosion and shockwave was present, forcing evacuation and response from across the region, according to interim Lyon County Fire Marshall Martin Jensen.

The bottom line is that, if we are going to live with LNG, we had better know what we are doing before somebody gets seriously burned. It is time to regulate LNG in the state of Florida.

To see this letter with citations and a concerned citizen’s letter to the governor with a written proposal to regulate liquefied natural gas in Florida, see the October newsletter of the League of Women Voters of Citrus County at www.lwvcitrus.org.

Maxine Connor is the Natural Resources Chair for the League of Women Voters of Citrus County.

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