Critics argue LNG puts Mumbai "on a volcano"

Vol 4, PW 7 (10 May 00) Midstream & Downstream

Sanjiv Chimbulkar, chief of Sankalika, tells Petrowatch of the reasons why he launched his campaign against the Trombay LNG project.

A preliminary analysis of his comments leaves it open to question if they have any technical foundation. Chimbulkar said LNG is "extremely hazardous" because of it inflammability as well as its explosive characteristics.

He said the location of the terminal in the vicinity of the Tata Electric Company's power station made it particularly dangerous. Chimbulkar said his letter to the state government points out that between 1978 and 1989, 11 people were killed and more than 100 injured in explosions at LNG installations in the United Kingdom, the United States and Germany.

"There is no disaster management plan or on-site risk assessment report drawn up," claims Chimbulkar, "The laws mandate a public hearing on these issues. Nothing of this sort has been done." He adds: "In their writ petition against Aegis Chemicals the Tatas themselves said that an LPG facility in close proximity to their power station is an extreme hazard." Chimbulkar claims LNG is several times more hazardous than LPG, particularly as the LNG pipelines at Trombay will be running parallel to coal-handling conveyors ("all of which are potential ignition sources") at the proposed import jetty.

"Allowing the Tatas to set up this LNG import terminal will amount to putting Mumbai city on the mouth of a volcano," argues Chimbulkar, "The Tatas argue that there are LNG import terminals in Tokyo Bay and Boston Harbour, but these are old terminals and exceptions to the international norm of setting up such terminals far away from human habitation."