A SAFE PROJECT
Safety concerns have been paramount at every stage of the
LNG terminal project.
From the project design to the basic engineering planning
Rabaska has made use of the best technology available. The designers
have also developed a general safety management plan for the terminal
and drawn up a list of safety measures to be implemented.
In addition to providing project safeguards, Rabaska must also
demonstrate to the authorities that possible accident scenarios have
been analyzed and the facilities are designed such that they
represent an acceptable risk for the population in accordance with
internationally recognized standards.
To do this, the project managers had various studies conducted
help identify and simulate various accident scenarios and estimate
and assess their consequences and probability of occurrence. In
industrial settings, this step is called a technological risk
This risk analysis required by government authorities was
conducted in 2005 and reviewed by numerous regulatory bodies, including
Bureau d'audiences publiques sur
l'environnement (BAPE), ministère
du Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs
de la Santé et des Services sociaux (MSSS), ministère de la
Sécurité publique, Transports Canada
(TC), and Natural
Resources Canada (NRC).
The in-depth knowledge of potential dangers this risk
analysis provides helps?
- Reduce risks at the source using the safest technology
available and the most appropriate safety measures
- Convey important information to the authorities so that
they can judge the environmental acceptability of the project in
terms of the proposed safety measures
- Keep the public informed. Quebec and Canadian environmental
assessment procedures provide an essential opportunity for public
input. A thorough understanding by the local population of the risks
associated with the project allows area residents to be more involved
in emergency response planning
- Design an emergency response program that more precisely
addresses the identified technological risks
To conduct this analysis, Rabaska retained the services of DNV
(Det Norske Veritas), an international firm with a world-renowned
reputation. It reviewed all aspects of the project, including the
terminal itself, the jetty and gas pipeline, the maritime risks,
and the safety of LNG tankers.
Headquartered in Norway, DNV was founded over 145 years ago.
boasts a network of 300 offices in some 100 countries on all
continents. The firm numbers over 9,000 employees, most of whom are
professional engineers. DNV has adopted a motto that clearly
expresses its main mission-"Safeguard life, property, and the
DNV is the world leader in risk, safety, environmental, and
accident impact assessment.
Using the guidelines developed by Ministère
durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs and the CEAA, DNV
conducted an in-depth study
involving detailed analysis of close to 300 different scenarios.
These analyses were conducted on the basis of industrial codes
standards in effect in Canada, the United States, and Europe
(CAN/CSA-Z276-01, NFPA 59A, and EN1473). The maritime risk study
followed the recommendations of the Society of International Gas
Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) and was conducted using the
TERMPOL process under the authority of Transport Canada, which
requires this type of risk analysis for LNG tankers from the time
they enter the Gulf of St. Lawrence until they reach the
The DNV experts developed accident scenarios for each type or
of terminal equipment. In each case, they conducted their analyses by
bringing a number of variables into play, such as the size of a leak
and the success or failure of isolating a leak by means of an
A total of 238 potential accident scenarios were studied.
special software and databases universally recognized in the
industry, they assessed both the probability of occurrence of each
scenario and the possible consequences. In each instance, they looked
at the specific characteristics and operating conditions of the
Once all the scenarios had been studied, the experts
cross-referenced the data for theoretical frequency and possible
consequences to assess individual risk level. The term "individual
risk" refers to the probability of death for an individual
permanently located in the area under study.
Risk quantification makes it possible to plot "iso-contour
or iso-risk contours around the terminal facilities. These imaginary
lines join all the points having the same risk level, which helps
determine, based on the probability of occurrence, whether the
population living within these lines faces a negligible, acceptable,
or unacceptable risk, as the case may be.
According to the recommendations of the Major Industrial
Accidents Council of Canada (MIACC) as risk acceptability criteria, the
project is acceptable in terms of risk evaluation for major technology
failures. There are no homes within the iso-contours with a calculated
risk factor of 10-5 (one occurrence per 100,000 years) and only three
homes within the iso-contours with a calculated risk factor of 10-5 to
10-6. As for other sensitive elements in the human environment such as
motels, campgrounds, the Sainte-Famille school, and roads, the study
shows that they will be exposed to risks of less than 10-7 (negligible
risks occurring less than once per 10 million years) because of their
distance from the facilities.
(Click map to zoom in)
These results are the outcome of multiple improvements
the facility design stage to integrate various risk reduction
measures. In this respect, special attention was paid to the jetty,
the failsafe tanks, the size of the retention basins, and offloading
pipes, which will be underground and protected by a concrete
Many other safety measures have been included in the design of
- Flanges, valves, and other parts that could be sources of
leaks have been kept to a minimum.
- The retention basins are located away from the facilities
to prevent a chain of accidents from occurring.
- Permanent facility monitoring (inspection rounds,
surveillance cameras and other instruments) will ensure an immediate
response in the event of an anomaly.
- The disaster response plan calls for staff training to
handle emergency situations and fight fires as well as installation
of water pipes, distribution lines, mobile equipment, and fire
- An emergency response plan describes the measures to take
in the event of an accident.
The quantitative analysis of risks related to operating the
pipeline that connects the LNG terminal to the provincial
distribution network was conducted by DNV following the same steps as
for the terminal, including the development of accident scenarios, an
evaluation of their probability of occurrence, a risk assessment, and
a description of safety measures adopted to ensure the integrity of
the pipeline and public safety.
The risk analysis was conducted on both the gas pipeline and
related facilities, including:
- The pigging station (for regular inspection of the
pipeline) and the block valve, both of which are located on terminal
- A second block valve located mid-way
- The delivery gate in Saint-Nicolas
Using 44 accident scenarios, the risk analysis examined all
natural and technological dangers of both internal and external
origin that could threaten the integrity of the gas pipeline.
As in the case of the terminal, event frequency and
were cross-referenced to determine level of risk. Risk quantification
was conducted by plotting individual risk iso-contours on a map
illustrating the path of the gas pipeline.
The illustration opposite indicates that the probability of
for individuals permanently located within 100 meters of the gas
pipeline running through Lévis and Saint-Nicolas is one
every 10 million years. The risk is therefore qualified as
(Click map to zoom in)
The DNV analysis also shows that the risk is one occurrence
100,000 to one million years around the block valve and at connecting
points upstream at the terminal and with TQM Pipeline facilities. Given
the maximum acceptable risk is one occurrence every 10,000 years, the
risk is deemed acceptable for these three gas pipeline
The gas pipeline impact study led to adoption of a series of
safety measures with regard to the design, construction, and
operation of the pipeline. These various measures address the most
probable accident causes, including accidental breakage of the
pipeline during excavation work performed by a third party.
Active and passive measures include the following:
- Strict compliance with design and construction codes and
standards in effect
- Emergency shutdown system consisting of three block valves
over the length of the gas pipeline
- A 23 meter right-of-way plus an obligation to declare all
work performed within 30 meters of this zone
- Burial depth that varies depending on the area being
- Thickness and grade of steel selected based on population
- Quality control of welding using X-rays
- Protective epoxy/urethane coating of pipeline together with
- Hydrostatic tests to verify the leak tightness of the
pipeline before it is put into service
- Protective concrete slabs at road crossings, ditches, and
- Alert tape indicating buried pipeline
- Strategically located signs along the gas pipeline path
- Regular pipeline inspections with internal inspection
- Regular aerial surveillance
- Control center for continuous surveillance of all network
An emergency response plan will set out the procedures to
in case of an accident and how to communicate and coordinate with the
RISK ANALYSIS RESULTS
For the purposes of the study, the tanker course was divided
five sections, running from the entrance to the Gulf of
to Les Escoumins, where pilots board ship; Les Escoumins to the North
Traverse; the North Traverse to Saint-Laurent on Île
Saint-Laurent to the Rabaska jetty; and finally, the jetty to the
wharf berthing bays. The study differentiates between winter-when ice
is present-and the rest of the year.
After identifying the various possible scenarios, the dangers
considered as presenting the highest frequency of occurrence or
having the most serious potential consequences were retained for the
quantitative risk analysis.
To perform this analysis, the DNV experts used data from
Register Fairplay, which gathers information on all ships worldwide,
as well as data compiled by the Canadian Transportation Accident
Investigation and Safety Board on incidents that have occurred in
Canadian waters and on the St. Lawrence River.
The scenarios studied were, among others, ship sinking, ship
grounding, collision on the river or at a wharf, fires aboard or near
ships, and failure of an offloading arm at the jetty.
Like for the terminal and gas pipeline risk studies, each
scenario was assessed by calculating the frequency of occurrence and
its potential consequences. Each time, the scenarios were evaluated
using special, universally recognized software.
To better assess risk level, each scenario was placed in a
based on its probability of occurrence and the seriousness of its
potential consequences. The figure below is a graphic illustration of
the matrix the experts used.
The matrix defines three risk levels:
- Negligible risk
- Acceptable risk if ALARP (As Low As Reasonably
- Unacceptable risk
The maritime risk assessment concluded that ship grounding is
accident most likely to occur. Industry reports show that in the past
45 years, there have been two major LNG tanker groundings (El Paso
Paul Kaiser, LNG Taurus), but they did not lead to any spills. There
have been no spills or major collisions involving LNG tankers in over
46,000 voyages and 200 million kilometers traveled during this period.
The risk level for each scenario is acceptable.
The DNV experts also considered LNG tanker breach scenarios
would lead to an LNG leak. Once again, DNV stressed that, no matter
what size the breach, it would have to be deep enough to penetrate
several barriers in order for a leak to occur, including the outer
hull, ballast tank, double hull, layers of insulation, and the walls
of the tanks.
The risk of an accident leading to a spill followed by a fire
causing death was evaluated at one occurrence every 7 million years
for a collision on the river, one occurrence every 9 million years
for a collision at the jetty, and one occurrence every 77 million
years for a ship grounding between Saint-Laurent on
The safety measures governing LNG tankers and their navigation
the St. Lawrence River are numerous and exceedingly stringent.
regard to the main measures, it must be stressed that:
- These ships are specifically designed to transport LNG; the
properties of LNG guarantee excellent, long term performance of the
- LNG tankers have double hulls, which not only minimize the
possibility of spills, but also strengthen the structure of the
ships, which means added protection in case of grounding or
- The cryogenic steel tanks aboard the tankers are equipped
with a number of safety systems to prevent spills, surges, vacuums,
and accidental leaks
- The safety facilities aboard the ships include firefighting
equipment that use powder and seawater to deal with any accidental
leak of LNG cargo
- LNG tankers undergo a regular program of technical
inspections, including annual inspections, periodic inspections every
two years, and special inspections every four years during which all
equipment and structures are carefully examined
- The ships that serve the Rabaska terminal in winter will be
specially built for navigating in ice and cold temperatures
LNG tankers that navigate the St. Lawrence River will
comply with very strict safety rules. In winter, ice pilots will be
required aboard to assist the captain. Two pilots will board at Les
Escoumins to help take the ship to Saint-Laurent, Île
where a river pilot will board and help the captain berth the ship at
the Rabaska terminal jetty. This pilot will remain aboard throughout
Expert recommendations were issued as part of the TERMPOL
and will apply to all LNG tankers on the St. Lawrence River.
An escort tug, for example, will assist the LNG tanker through the
North Traverse, where passage is one way. The escort tug will remain on
standby throughout the call
and tugs will assist the tanker during docking and undocking maneuvers.
As its name indicates, an exclusion zone is a buffer zone that
establishes a minimum distance between an industrial facility and
areas that are inhabited or frequented by the public, such as
residences, hospitals, schools, and other gathering areas. There are
various standards to determine these exclusion zones.
Rabaska made the decision to reference not only Canadian
(CSA-Z276), but American standard NFPA 59A and European
standard EN 1473 as well. The European standard sets exclusion zone
limits based on technological risk analysis. The buffer zone Rabaska
has proposed around the LNG terminal goes beyond the strict
application of these already stringent standards.
The Canadian and American standards require the installation
retention basins at various strategic locations at the terminal; for
example, near the tanker offloading arm, near LNG tanks, and in the
immediate vicinity of the "operations zone" (area where the LNG is
(Click map to zoom in)
The European approach bases the exclusion zones on the
technological risk analysis. As mentioned previously, the firm DNV,
based on internationally recognized criteria, established the maximum
acceptable risk for the public as one occurrence per 10,000 years.
Based on probability, this risk level means that no more than one
accident will occur over the next 10 centuries resulting in the death
of anyone permanently located within the identified perimeter.
In the diagram, an orange line illustrates the perimeter of
terminal exclusion zone, as determined by the DNV experts based on
these criteria. This treshold complies with the risk
acceptability criteria set out by MIACC
The project designers have complied with all three
standards - Canadian, American, and European - for these exclusion
The exclusion zones that will be submitted to regulatory authorities
for approval greatly exceed the limits set by national and
Rabaska has decreed:
- A 500-meter-radius exclusion zone around the offloading arm
at the wharf
- A 100-meter-radius exclusion zone around the retention
basin at the riverside facilities
- A 400-meter-radius exclusion zone around the LNG tanks and
It should be noted that the exclusion zone perimeter for
facilities is entirely within the area earmarked for the proposed LNG
terminal and for which Rabaska holds purchase options.
Despite proper management of the overall risks, there will
always be a residual risk, and an accident requiring immediate and
adequate action could still occur. To this end, the emergency response
plan outlines measures to be put in place in emergency situations such
as fires, leaks, natural disasters, etc.
A preliminary emergency response plan submitted to the City of
Lévis outlines Rabaska's emergency management team and the
internal emergency response teams, along with the roles and
responsibilities of each. External resources (police, firefighters,
coast guard, ambulances, etc.) are also identified with their
responsibilities and respective roles in the event of an emergency. A
number of emergency scenarios are outlined, along with the procedures
and equipment required for alert, danger mitigation, rescue,
evacuation, and normalization phases. Lastly, the preliminary plan
lists the exercises to be carried out on a regular basis to assess the
emergency teams' response capacities and ability to inform the public.
Rabaska will sit on Lévis' Joint
Municipality/Industry Committee (CMMI), which seeks to pool resources,
knowledge, professional expertise, and equipment as part of the
technology risk management process. Representatives from ministries and
organizations such as Environment Canada, Ministère du
Développement durable, de l'Environnement et des Parcs, and
health and social services agencies sit on the committee along with
Ministère de la Sécurité publique. As
per the recommendations issued by the TERMPOL Committee and BAPE,
representatives from the Île d'Orléans RCM, the
Bellechasse RCM, Transport Canada Marine Safety, the Quebec City Port
Authority, and the Canadian Coast Guard will be invited to participate.
The final emergency response plan will be completed at least
six months before the terminal begins operating.