U.S. states oppose LNG transport by rail

Trump administration’s proposal to start liquefied natural gas (LNG) transportation by rail is facing opposition from 16 U.S. states, due to associated risks. 

Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy

In a filing to the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), attorneys general from 16 states including, among others, California, New York, Maryland, Illinois and District of Columbia, said the potential leaks from transporting LNG by rail could form highly flammable vapor clouds.

To remind, PHMSA proposed rulemaking to authorize the transportation of LNG by rail in the DOT-113 specification tank cars.

The ruling proposed in October last year followed Trump administration’s executive order in April last year that requested treatment of LNG the same as other cryogenic liquids and permit LNG to be transported in approved rail tank cars.

The ruling is to be finalized in July 2020.

PHMSA noted that currently, LNG may only be transported via rail in a portable tank with approval from FRA.

However, the HMR does authorize the DOT-113 specification tank car for other flammable cryogenic liquids. It is specifically designed for the transportation of refrigerated liquefied gases.

This design specification may be similarly suitable for the transport of refrigerated liquid methane (LNG).

However, in their filing, the representatives of the 16 states noted that the proposal could allow trains with up to 100 cars transporting LNG to be operated by a single person.

The group said that despite PHMSA-imposed safety controls, this still does not meet the minimum level required by the National Transportation Safety Board.