Subscribe for 33¢ / day

Recent letters to The World have been referencing the leakage of just under 2 million tons of smelly, fire sustaining natural gas from a proposed huge storage facility at Jordan Cove. In years past, doctors and others have talked about the medical consequences down wind of the leaking gas. But what about the possibility of that gas being ignited by aircraft while its airborne?

Jordan Cove lies just across the bay from N.B. airport. The flyway for the generally east/west runway runs just south of the cove. The flyway for the generally north/south runway runs over the cove itself. In both these flyways, aircraft engines are operating at near maximum for takeoff, producing near maximum amount of heat exhaust. If there is a leak from a future LNG storage tank at J.C., will the heat from passing aircraft cause ignition of the leaking gas?

A knowledgeable friend tells reminds me that natural gas is lighter than air, thus it will rise. With a gentle breeze from the north, leaking gas from the storage tank will float over the airports’ east/west flyway. The north/nouth flyway could be above the leak itself. Yet isn’t there plenty of air for the gas to dissipate into? My friend tells me that for a “fire or explosion it would need a fuel ratio of 5-15 percent.”

So a lot depends on how fast that 2 million tons of gas leaks. If slowly, I imagine little gas bubbles rising into the sky. Perhaps a family gathering with lawn chairs near the rail crossing on Trans Pacific Lane. One could watch the planes taking off with little bursts of gas popping off behind them. If the amount of gas escaping is much larger, perhaps a bright shinny fireworks like explosion (e.g. a “star shell”); followed by a blast of heat, that may burn the skin or singe the hair. Perhaps the fire ignited by the passing airplane will move along the flow of leaking gas to its source, in a huge gas storage tank. Then the ribbon of flame turns into a major explosion damaging houses in Norh Bend and businesses along Virginia Street and Pony Villiage.

These gas storage tanks should not be built near populated areas, such as North Bend.

Michael Krumper

North Bend