The Government Accountability Office (GAO) urged more study of the potential impact of an LNG tanker catastrophe, especially with the demand for LNG soaring.
Massachusetts Democrat Congressman Edward Markey said with LNG tankers sailing into Boston Harbor, Bostonians needed to know what could happen if terrorists attacked a fully loaded vessel.
“It’s very troubling that our knowledge about the potential public safety consequences of a terrorist attack on these vessels is not better,” Markey said in a statement.
The House of Representatives’ Homeland Security Committee and the House Energy Committee, which Markey chairs, are planning hearings on LNG tankers in the coming weeks.
The GAO report said much is unknown about what exactly would happen if an LNG ship was attacked, but it confirmed a 2004 Sandia National Labs report that said if an LNG ship was successfully attacked, the most harm would come from fiercely intense heat from fires, rather than an explosion.
The GAO urged the Energy Department to undertake further research on the risks from a major fire or gas release in terror attacks or natural disasters on such tanker ships.
Texan Republican Congressman Joe Barton noted that LNG shipments had an excellent safety record and such vessels have operated nearly 50 years without a major spill.
He said mandatory protection zones around LNG tankers were believed to be adequate, but argued that further research on the risks was “only prudent."