LNG ‘bomb trains’ Ignite Nightmare Scenario For South Florida

There is no way to put out the fires or prevent the explosions should a rail car carrying LNG derail and rupture.

By Ann Henson Feltgen
FloridaBulldog.org (9/18/19)

“If I lived in South Florida near the Florida East Coast Railway corridor, I would move now.”

That statement came from Ron Kaminkow, of Reno, Nev., who is an Amtrak engineer and general secretary for Railroad Workers United.

“If a train derailed and there was an explosion and fire, you’re dead!” he added.

Kaminkow was talking about a nightmare scenario here where so-called “bomb trains” towing liquified natural gas tank cars now run regularly from the Hialeah LNG liquefaction/export plant to PortMiami and Port Everglades. The FEC got the green light last year with a special permit from the Federal Railroad Administration’s Hazardous Material Division.

This was part of a plan enacted in President Donald Trump’s executive order in April allowing LNG to be transported by rail around the country. Trump wanted to clear any barriers that would stop his plan to ramp up the LNG industry and export the fuel to a variety of foreign countries.

LNG is natural gas that has been chilled to a temperature of minus 260 degrees F, which condenses it into a liquid, allowing more gas to be shipped per load. But if the tank is punctured, the LNG would stream out and form a vapor cloud that could explode, perhaps killing and injuring many people in urban areas, such as the east coast of Florida where Florida East Coast Railway runs through the hearts of cities and neighborhoods.

Between 2016 and 2017, Florida East Coast Railway transported more than 201 million cubic feet of LNG from the American LNG Marketing LLC plant in Hialeah to either PortMiami or Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The commodities were headed to Barbados. The Hialeah plant won a special permit to produce LNG, one of only two companies in the United States that received a permit for a pilot program.

‘Bomb trains’ opposition

Kaminkow’s organization is opposed to allowing LNG to be transported by rail as regulations currently stand. Railroad Workers United is an umbrella organization for railroad workers that advocates safety, solidarity, democracy, member education and rank-and-file action of its members. These members also belong to one of the 13 U.S. railroad unions that are organized by craft, such as engineers, signalmen, machinists and dispatchers. Kaminkow would not disclose how many members are in the organization.

Since Trump’s executive order was published, nearly 3,000 comments have been submitted to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Most comments implored the agency to reject the proposal. …

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