Liberty Utilities makes case for Granite Bridge pipeline – News – seacoastonline.com

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EPPING To help sell the public on the safety of liquefied natural gas, a Liberty Utilities expert dumped a bread pan full of the gas on the floor Wednesday, where it evaporated in a matter of seconds.The safety demonstration was part of a community forum hosted by Liberty Utilities to educate residents on the scientific properties of liquefied natural gas (LNG) at Epping Middle School.Liberty Utilities wants to construct a 150-to-170 foot high LNG storage tank with a 200-foot diameter, in West Epping as part of its 16-inch, 27-mile Granite Bridge pipeline connecting Exeter to Manchester.The tank, which will be constructed in an abandoned quarry, will be capable of storing 2 billion cubic feet of LNG.Liberty Utilities’ application for the Granite Bridge project is still under review by the state Public Utilities Commission. Liberty officials said they expect an approval within the next several months. The application then goes to the state Site Evaluation Committee for review, a process that can take up to another full year or longer before construction can begin. The project would be the first of its kind to utilize the state’s Energy Infrastructure Corridors, along major state highways, if approved and carries an estimated cost of $440 million.Liberty Utilities officials said the project is intended to help natural gas customers along the Concord Lateral line, primarily the Interstate 93 belt, maintain access to affordable energy by increasing the supply of natural gas to reduce the price of heating fuel for customers.Erik Neandross, CEO of GNA Clean Transportation & Energy Consultants, led the LNG demonstration. Neandross’ firm helps more than 200 clients further the development of clean fuels, mostly LNG, and advanced technologies for transportation purposes.As part of the presentation, Neandross explained how LNG, which is more than 91% methane, is stored. Should Granite Bridge receive approval, natural gas would enter the storage tank and be cryogenically frozen into a liquid and stored to meet demand at off-peak prices during the winter, Liberty officials said.Neandross ignited a beaker filled with LNG to show how it is not explosive, contrary to many common misconceptions, he said. Though he said natural gas can be combustible under the right circumstances when natural gas makes up an air concentration of 5 to 15%, combined with oxygen and heat, but added such an ignition would be confined within the perimeter of a containment pit, in the event of a leak.“LNG is different because it’s cryogenically frozen, but at the end of the day it’s just natural gas like we have in our homes, in our pipes and in our walls; we’re very comfortable with it,” Neandross said. “LNG is not flammable; natural gas is flammable but only in the right mixture with air.”Huck Montgomery, stakeholder engagement lead for the Granite Bridge project, said the safety design of the Granite Bridge storage tank differs from the Williams Company tank, which was punctured after a natural gas line exploded in close proximity to it in Washington state in 2014.He said the Williams Company operated a single containment tank.The LNG storage tank in Epping, he said, is proposed to be a “full containment” tank, meaning it will feature an inner tank storing cryogenic LNG encased inside an outer tank with an outer layer of 3-foot thick concrete to trap any possible leak.“A full containment tank is the gold standard of LNG safety,” Montgomery said. “Any projectile launched at (the Granite Bridge) tank from a normal seismic event would bounce off the concrete tank and protect the inner tank from damage.”Neandross said during the 2014 Williams Company accident, the company’s LNG storage tank did not explode, rather shrapnel from the natural gas line explosion punctured the outer tank and caused it to leach perlite insulation. He said perlite resembles a Styrofoam-like substance and is made from super-heated volcanic rock.”(Williams Company) was bringing that facility back on line after it had been dormant for some time, and they had the right band of flammability between the gas and air in a line,” he said. “It was like ripping open a stuffed (teddy) bear.””One of the cardinal rules of LNG, is that you never want to have a pipe that can’t relieve itself because LNG will expand (liquid to gas at a) 600 to one ratio,” he added. “As it warms up the pressure has to be relieved somehow.”However, some Epping residents in attendance for the presentation were still not sold on Granite Bridge after watching the LNG demonstration. Many opponents thought the state should be incentivizing green energy projects rather than approving a project for new fossil fuel infrastructure.“We need to keep (natural gas) in the ground, I know that’s being construed as climate fundamentalism now,” said resident Dr. Siobhan Senier, a UNH professor. “But the climate is fundamental because we’re right on the threshold (of climate disaster).””(Liberty Utilities) is a business, they’re talking about what is financially suitable for their customers and their corporate bottom line,” added fellow attendee and Epping resident Marjorie Pim. “While LNG may be relatively safe, as developers of this pipeline, they’re not looking at the larger good of the human community.”Outside of Epping Middle School, a group of more than a dozen demonstrators from the climate action group 350NH protested the Granite Bridge project. They noted that 66% of Epping voters in the previous town election approved a non-binding question opposing the construction of Liberty’s LNG storage tank.“I don’t want this in my town or in New Hampshire,” said resident Karen Merriam, who held a poster comparing the scale of the storage tank as being roughly as tall as the Statue of Liberty. “Everyone has to make up their own mind but I don’t think everyone has truly grasped the scale of the project. People still think natural gas is clean but it’s a little more complicated when you factor in fugitive emissions.”Montgomery, however, said Granite Bridge would be beneficial to the environment because more customers would have access to natural gas instead of heating oil, which creates more carbon when burned. He said over the ensuing 20 years after Granite Bridge would go online, 1 million tons of carbon dioxide would be removed from the atmosphere, equivalent to the emissions produced by 200,000 cars.“Heating oil has issues like particulate matter that causes respiratory illnesses, like asthma,” Montgomery said. “By reducing asthma and respiratory illnesses we could reduce our health care costs by $3.9 million over the next 20 years. If you think of that in human terms, that’s going to be less sick kids, less asthma and less pollution in the atmosphere.”

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