Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, September 28, 2016

Contact: Dune Lankard, (907) 952-5265,

Alaska's Liquefied Natural Gas Rail Project, First in United States,
Raises Safety, Secrecy, Environmental Concerns

ANCHORAGE— This week’s shipment of liquefied natural gas (LNG) by Alaska Railroad — the first rail shipment of LNG in U.S. history — raises safety concerns, has avoided serious public scrutiny, and could deepen the country’s dependence on fossil fuels, according to the Center of Biological Diversity. The group made a Freedom of Information Act request to the Federal Railroad Administration for documents related to the project earlier this year and received a non-responsive reply. Orlando (Florida) Sun-Sentinel columnist Michael Mayo also sought documents related to an LNG-by-rail proposal in South Florida earlier this year; he was told those documents were “proprietary information,” as he detailed in a June 8 column.        

“Alaskans are being endangered by this untested plan for shipping a volatile compressed fuel by rail. We know LNG facilities and oil trains both have deadly histories of explosions, and the public deserves to know more about this expansion of the country’s fossil fuel infrastructure,” said Dune Lankard, the Center’s senior Alaska representative. “Rather than finding new ways of burning more fossil fuels, this country needs to address climate change and convert to clean energy.”

As reported by the Associated Press and other media outlets, two Sept. 7 LNG shipments from Anchorage to Fairbanks, using specially designed 7,000-gallon rail tankers that keep the condensed fuel chilled to minus 260 degrees Fahrenheit, were the first in a pilot program running through the end of 2017. It’s part of a dangerous new trend of increasingly shipping explosive fossil fuels by rail, which has already killed dozens and endangers millions of people near rail lines, according to a 2015 report by the Center. The U.S. Department of Transportation is currently reviewing its LNG safety rules following a 2014 explosion at an LNG plant in Plymouth, Wash. that injured five people and did $72 million in property damage.

“A derailment or natural-gas explosion would devastate Alaska’s communities and wildlife. Our salmon and herring runs and impacted wildlife have never fully recovered from the Exxon Valdez spill, and that was almost 30 years ago,” Lankard said. “Alaskans deserve more than to be guinea pigs for the LNG industry.”    

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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