Demonstration outside DEC public hearing outlining new regulations on storing liquid natural gas

Demonstrators hold up signs at the New York State Fairgrounds protesting new regulations on storing liquid natural gas.

Before a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) public information session on proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) regulations, dozens of demonstrators came out to express concern.

Renee Vogelsang of New Yorkers Against Fracking says allowing LNG storage would put New York on a slippery slope.

"They're designed for the oil and gas industry to build infrastructure for fracking across the state. Worse still, the regulations are woefully inadequate and put the health and wellbeing of New Yorkers at risk," says Vogelsang.

Demonstrators also say storing liquid natural gas is dangerous, referring to an accident in 1973 where 40 workers died in an explosion at a Staten Island storage facility.

"The scale of the explosion was horrific. A firefighter at the scene reported that it was quote was like a science fiction novel or dante's inferno," says Vogelsang.

The state imposed a moratorium on gas storage facilities after the accident

but it was lifted in 1999 and now the DEC has proposed new regulations to bring it back.

If LNG isn't stored at the correct temperature, it can undergo a rapid phase change. Biologist Dr. Sandra Steingraber says that is when LNG becomes extremely dangerous.

"At that point an LNG facility becomes a bomb and it can take out an area with a flaming vapor cloud up to depending on how large it is, a half mile or more," says Steingraber.

Andrew English with the DEC says if handled correctly, LNG is no more dangerous than any other fossil fuel.

"Even though it's possible to have an accident with a flammable fuel, the track record both in the united states and other countries is that LNG is as safe and very similar to petroleum fuels," says English.

Protesters say the regulations don't address these safety issues.

"Why are there no limits on putting these facilities next to schools, next to daycares, next to hospitals, and next to airports. And what about these facilities as terrorist threats? There's nothing in the regulations that talk about any of those issues," says Steingraber.

For its part, the DEC says those issues are already outlined in national standards which new york permit holders will have to adhere to.

"Even though the regulations don't have many details those details are all in the standards that people who want to get a permit are required to follow," says English.

In Wednesday's informational session DEC officials outlined the new regulations and took questions but a formal public hearing will take place on October 30 at the DEC headquarters in Albany.