Safety Before LNG
Exposing the truth about the Hess 'Shannon LNG' project
Negative Effects on the Shannon Estuary
Nevada LNG Explosion

Press Releases

For Immediate Release
Press Release September 10th 2020: 

"An LNG cloud is reasonably easily ignited" - the 1987 Nevada Desert Falcon Tests accident video revealed.


An LNG cloud is reasonably easily ignited" - so said Dr. Jerry Havens at the Oral hearing in Ireland into the Shannon LNG project plans in 2008. The plant never got built and 12 years later, it has morphed into an even more controversial plan by New Fortress Energy  to import fracked gas from the USA. Since 2008 we have had global warming, Ireland banned fracking and now, in 2020, Ireland has a new Government with an agreed Programme for Government of a policy against the importation of fracked gas. 


But the safety issues are still there and haven't changed since 2008, where the industry pushes the boundaries of safety to the limit of acceptability and beyond.  

Dr. Havens explained the significance of the falcon tests accident in 1987 - a video of which has been seen very little in public. 

The full transcripts can be viewed from the transcripts of day 3 at the oral hearing into the proposed LNG regasification terminal, held in Tralee, Ireland on January 23rd 2008 (click here:  

where he stated: 


"I have a film, video, a short video clip, about two 

minutes long, that was the result of a test that was 

done in the 80's at the Liquefied Gaseous Fuels Test 

Facility, which is the big name for the LNG test centre 

that they built out in the Nevada desert after the 

first LNG go round concern. There was some large scale 

field tests. These particular tests were called the 

"Falcon" tests. What they were intended to do was to 

see what the effect of building a vapour fence around a 

spill area. The vapour fence would not -- these 

facilities have concrete sumps or [inaudible] sumps, 

bunds, but that is to retain the liquid from spreading. 

It has been postulated that if you put a vapour fence, 

perhaps even on top of the bund, that it would lessen 

the travel distance of the vapour that was evolved. So 

this was a set of experiments to study that. So, in 

essence, it is hold up of vapour, how much would a 

structure hold this vapour and prevent it going down 


The Falon Test Accident:

There were five tests that were conducted. I will show 

you a still picture of one. It is the only picture I 

have with me. But the reason I will show you it is to 

show you the effects of the density of the gas. Okay? 

So you will be looking at an LNG cloud, you will be 

looking at it staying close to the ground etc. etc. 

This first slide, I won't delay with the details, but I 

will provide it to you if you wish. I will read it 

quickly at the top so that we will all know what I am 

talking about. 

Nefada Desert Falcon Test 1987

The "Falcon" test series involved five moderate scale, 

that is 20 to 66 cubic metres, releases of LNG into a 

fenced vapour containment area, with dimensions 44 

metres, 88 metres by 10 metres tall. It, basically, is 

just a square fence. Table 1 shows the LNG volume 

spilled in each test. Along with the volume of the LNG 

vapour, at its boiling point, that would be evolved. 

If you take LNG liquid you change it to vapour. At its 

boiling point it is about 270 times as large. You take 

it all the way to ambient temperature it is closer to 

600 times. But at the boiling point it is about 270 


The last column shows what I have called the vapour 

fill ratio. Now, all the numbers are small from 0.14 

up to 0.46. What that means is that all of the liquid 

that is spilled in there formed a certain amount of 

vapour and that vapour, if it remained pure, didn't mix 

with air, would not fill up the fence, would not 

overflow. In the US currently I believe that there is 

still being used technology, in doing vapour cloud 

explosion models, that assumes that the gas from a 

spill will fill up as a pure gas and overflow, rather 

than being is scooped out by the wind, for example. 

The point of this is that the flammable gas mixtures, 

in spite of these numbers, all overflowed the fence and 

flammable gases went downwind to some considerable 

distance. I think that the 2.5% concentration extended 

to about 250 metres in the first test. We can get the 

numbers for all the others but that's the only one I 


Now, this is a three quarter view looking down onto 

this enclosure. So, I will point at what you are 

looking at. That is the fence, it is 10 metres tall, 

it goes all the way around here. There is a pipe 

coming here from storage tanks, going through the 

fence, coming out to this thing they call a spider 

network. Basically, it is a distribution pipe system. 

They pump the LNG through the long pipe out into that. 

It had a bunch of holes in it. It was a way to rapidly 

spill onto water. That's water underneath. So they 

built a pond -- this is in the middle of the desert but 

they built the pond. The LNG is virtually sprayed, if 

you like, down onto the water. 

Now, this is one of the tests. Frankly, I don't know 

which one but I could find out. But it is one of one 

through four. You can see the up wind fence end in 

this picture. Right here. And the wind is coming in 

this direction, I think it is clear. You see a big 

white cloud. Now, I have said before this cloud does 

not pose a toxicity hazard. If it weren't too cold, 

and it wouldn't be unless you were really, really close 

to it, it wouldn't hurt you, unless the concentration 

of the methane, for example, were high enough that you 

could be asphyxiated. But that is not likely to occur 

very close either. So, the toxicity problem is not a 

current concern. You couldn't smell it. You couldn't 

see it. 

What you see here is condensed water vapour. Now, this 

is in the desert and the humidity was only about 5%. 

But still, it was hot and that is enough water vapour 

to condense all of this white material. So, the next 

question comes in. There is no assured coincidence 

between the visible cloud and the flammable cloud. In 

this case the visible cloud probably does not extend as 

far as the vapour cloud. The vapour cloud, flammable 

vapour cloud, probably extends further than the visible 


Now, you will notice that it is going in this 

direction. What is happening is its building up inside 

the fence, the wind is coming from this direction, you 

can see it folding it over. It is running over the 

top -- I mean the far end -- and then it is dropping 

down on the ground. All of that is a clear indication 

that the cloud is heavier than air. 

Now, I come to the video. We are looking down into the 

same enclosure and we are going to look at a video of 

the last spill. The video will illustrate two or three 

things that have been discussed. It will illustrate 

the growth of the filling up of the enclosure. It will 

also illustrate, and I will point out to you, a number 

of Rapid Phase Transitions. Rapid Phase Transitions 

are sometimes called flameless explosions. What 

happens is if you take a super cold material and plunge 

it into the water it will absorb the heat from the 

water and it will do, what we call in thermodynamics, 

it will super heat. It will get higher in temperature 

than its boiling point. Then, when it reaches a kind 

of instability, it will evaporate extremely suddenly, 

which causes an explosion or a pressure wave. 

Now, I want to show this film for three reasons. I 

think they are all important. The first one. You have 

already seen a still picture that shows you that this 

gas does not rise up in the air. This will be a motion 

picture that will show you the same thing. It will 

also indicate to you what Rapid Phase Transitions look 

like. We can discuss how violent they were and 

everything after you see the film. 

Finally, however, this was the number five test in this 

series, which inadvertently caught on fire, and you 

will see the fire in this picture. The point that I 

would make with this is not to alarm you, to scare you 

or for any other bad reason, it is simply to tell you 

that it is a consideration, certainly is to me. I was 

involved in this test programme and I can assure you 

that we went to great lengths to see that we had no 

fire. And yet we had an accidental fire. 

I think, maybe, the thing to do is run it all the way 

through and then if there are specific things that I 

can help with. You will see the gas forming. It is 

spraying out violently. The intent here was to have 

very rapid evaporation, that's why it was spilled on 

water. The climbing up the fences on the side, running 

over down there. Right over in this area (indicating), 

before very long you will see the first RPT, Rapid 

Phase Transition. I don't know exactly where it is, 

but it is somewhere around there. There's the first 

one. Second one. Third one. You can count then, but 

there are somewhere around a dozen that occur there, 

generally all over the place, before it is over. Now, 

watch over in this area. You will see a little flash 

and then a fire. There is one more little piece on the 

end of another camera angle and, unfortunately, that's 

the best photographic coverage that I know that exists 

of this fire. This ended that experimental programme. 

There are voluminous reports on all of this that are 

available, including reports that are available on the 

investigation of the fire. I don't know that questions 

like this are ever completely settled for everybody's 

satisfaction, but there are more than one theory about 

what actually happened. I can tell you that one of the 

principle theories was that this was a plastic fence, 

mounted on metal around the container, and the RPTs 

through objects, including concrete blocks, and some 

people think that the concrete blocks striking the 

electrostatically charged fence started the fire. 

Now, that's all I was going to do. I will be happy to 

try and answer your questions. That's the only film I 

have, too. I guess my point of this and reason for 

showing it is simply that these are things that I am 

sure we all would agree, an LNG cloud is reasonably 

easily ignited. You have to take good care, and of 

course they will, to try to ensure that it doesn't get 

ignited if it does give out. It does have some special 

characteristics. The number one, I would say, is the 

fact that it is a much denser than air gas. Even 

though methane gas normally is lighter than air. LNG 

vapour is not.”