Liquefied natural gas (LNG) is a supercooled liquid form of natural gas. U.S. LNG imports are projected to increase to about 17 percent of natural gas supplies by 2030, from about 3 percent today. To meet this increase, energy companies have submitted 32 applications for new terminals. If a terrorist attack on an LNG tanker caused a spill, potential hazards, such as fire, asphyxiation, and explosions, could result. The Department of Energy (DOE) recently funded a study to conduct small- and large-scale experiments to refine and validate models that calculate how heat from large LNG fires would affect the public. This testimony is based on GAO's recently released report, Maritime Security: Public Safety Consequences of a Terrorist Attack on a Tanker Carrying Liquefied Natural Gas Need Clarification (GAO-07-316). To prepare this report, GAO examined the results of six recent unclassified studies on the effects of an LNG spill and convened a panel of 19 experts to identify areas of agreement on the consequences of a terrorist attack on an LNG tanker.
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