LNG tanker traffic puts residents at risk

As LNG tankers transit Howe Sound and English Bay, there is a high-danger zone for 1,600 metres on either side of the LNG tanker. People within this zone risk death by asphyxiation, or death/injury by fire or explosion if an accident happens.1

HoweSound_LNG_Tanker_HazardZones-2017-04-10.jpgLiquefied Natural Gas (LNG) in its liquid form is not explosive and non-flammable.2 However, if there is an accident and the LNG tanker hull is breached, LNG could be released from the LNG tanker and form a vapour cloud that is easily dispersed by the wind and waves. LNG vapour can be ignited with the slightest spark (e.g., a cigarette or an outboard motor) and could cause an enormous spreading fireball—lethal to anything within several kilometres. Risks include death by cryogenic freezing, fire or explosion; suffocation; thermal radiation burns; damage or destruction of property by fire or explosion, and forest fires.1

The proposed LNG tanker route from Woodfibre LNG runs along the shore of West Vancouver and through Howe Sound, with 70-100 transits proposed per year.3 The LNG tanker route cuts across three BC Ferries routes carrying thousands of daily passengers. Howe Sound is notorious for strong winds and has several narrow passages.4 The ability to maneuver a massive LNG carrier is highly restricted. Each tanker would need to be assisted by three tugboats.5 If a tanker collided with a ferry or ran aground and caught fire, the impacts would be devastating.

Recent changes to LNG Tanker moorage and bunkering rules for Port Metro Vancouver allows LNG tankers to bunker (refuel) at one of four cape-size anchorages operated by Port Metro Vancouver in English Bay.3,6 LNG tankers bunkering in English Bay puts Point Grey, Stanley Park, and West Vancouver at risk.

The U.S. Coast Guard and U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security use world experts on LNG fires to define hazard zones around LNG tanker routes, to protect human life and property.7 Canada has no regulations for LNG tankers in Canadian waters.8 Hazard zones extend 3,500 m on either side of the LNG tanker. Check out the map to see if your home or business, or your children's school is within 3,500 m of the tanker route.

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper prohibited the passage of LNG tankers on the sparsely populated east coast of Canada because he said LNG tankers posed “risks to the region of southwest New Brunswick and its inhabitants that the Government of Canada cannot accept.”9

Yet, the Trudeau Government has conditionally approved the Woodfibre LNG project without assessing the risks of transporting LNG through our heavily populated communities.10

TAKE ACTION: Sign the Howe Sound Declaration now

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  1. Hightower et al., (2004) Guidance on Risk Analysis and Safety Implications of a Large Liquefied Natural
    Gas (LNG) Spill Over Water. Sandia Report, SAND2004-6258.
  2. Encana (2014) Material Safety Data Sheet (Canada) Liquefied Natural Gas. Prepared by Encana Environment, Health, and Safety, 1 July 2014.
  3. Golder Associates Ltd. (2013) Woodfibre LNG Environmental Assessment: Executive Summary.
  4. John Gleeson (2014) LNG tanker risk called higher for Howe Sound. Coast Reporter, 10 July 2014.
  5. Woodfibre LNG (2015) Woodfibre LNG Limited Response to SIGTTO LNG Ports and Risk Reduction Options. 18 August 2015.
  6. Port Metro Vancouver (2014) Harbour Operations Manual.
  7. US Department of Homeland Security and United States (2011) Guidance related to waterfront liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities. 24 January 2011.
  8. VTACC (2017) Sailing into unknown waters: Canada lacks the regulatory framework needed to protect the public from the security and safety risks of LNG development on the BC coast.
  9. Jon M. Van Dyke (2008) Canada's Authority To Prohibit LNG Vessels From Passing Through Head Harbor Passage To U.S. Ports. Ocean and Coastal Law Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1.
  10. Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency (2016) Woodfibre LNG Project: Environmental Assessment Decision.