Page last updated at 13:20 GMT, Thursday, 8 January 2009

Safety briefing on LNG terminals

Jetty at South Hook terminal
The first tankers carrying LNG are expected to dock at the jetty at South Hook within the next few months. Photo: South Hook LNG

Emergency services are to outline how they would tackle any big incidents at the new gas terminals being built at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire.

Since it was first announced liquefied natural gas (LNG) is to be shipped to the port there have been safety fears.

Drop-in sessions are being held from Thursday but campaigners said plans and safety briefings were "incomplete and inadequate".

Tankers carrying LNG will start arriving in the next few months.

Two companies - South Hook LNG and Dragon LNG - are currently finishing off their plants at Wales's biggest port.

Opponents took legal action in a bid to stop them being built claiming a shipping accident, leak or major incident at one of the plants could put the lives of those living nearby at risk.

The extensive safety systems at the plants make the likelihood of any incidents there extremely small
Paul Bates, assistant chief fire officer

Fire, police, council and other representatives will be explaining their emergency contingency plans and answering questions on safety arrangements.

The event is being held at Cedar Court in Milford Haven between 1400 and 1900 GMT on Thursday.

Pembrokeshire council's head of civil contingencies Richard Brown said: "This drop-in session is intended to be very informal, giving the public an opportunity to come along and find out a bit more about the emergency response plan arrangements.

"People can turn up anytime and talk directly with representatives from the emergency services and supporting agencies.

"I think they will be reassured that the risk of an incident is very low and that the safety standards are extremely high and, in the very unlikely event there is a problem, there are good multi-agency response plans in place to mitigate the impacts."

But Gordon Main, a spokesman for Safe Haven campaign group claimed that both South Hook and Pembrokeshire Council had still neglected to look at the consequences of a major LNG release at the jetty or in the waterway which meant any emergency plans or safety leaflets "are likely to be incomplete and inadequate."

The group said it had reported a possible breach of safety directives to the European Commission in what it called a "last ditch attempt" to see that safety was not compromised.

Campaigners believe the first tanker may arrive as early as next week but it is thought that the first shipment will not arrive for several weeks.

Frontline colleagues

More than 50 firefighters from the Pembrokeshire area have travelled to Texas in the USA for specialist LNG training.

They were involved in theoretical and practical exercises to understand the way in which LNG behaves and how to contain and suppress any leaks and tackle large scale fires.

Assistant chief fire officer Paul Bates, who attended the training, said: "Our staff in Pembrokeshire continue to work hard alongside the plant operators to ensure that the safety systems installed are of the highest standard.

"This specialist training in LNG behaviour has been extremely beneficial to frontline colleagues and officers alike.

"Whilst the extensive safety systems at the plants make the likelihood of any incidents there extremely small, it is comforting to know that we have specially trained firefighters available if needed."

Separate safety and emergency planning exercises will be launched by the two companies in nearby communities before the arrival of the first LNG ship.

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