Sunday, April 22, 2007

Video Madness - 21 April 2007

Ever wonder just how bad a terrorist attack on a liquefied natural gas could be? The following clips from a TLC show are explosions from a liquid petroleum gas (LPG) plant and an ammonium perchlorate factory:

Two technical points: Early on in the first clip, the narrator mentions 'BLEVEs' (pronounce "blevies"), which is an acronym that stands for boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. This 1973 disaster in Kingman, Arizona 1978 disaster in Texas City, Texas is what a "worst case scenario" terrorist attack on a LNG terminal would probably look like.[ed. - It is actually the 1978 Texas City BLEVE. I always mix the two up, my bad.]

From the second clip, ammonium perchlorate is the oxidizer used in solid rocket fuel in U.S. rockets, including NASA's solid rocket boosters and later-generation strategic missiles (the Minuteman and Peacekeeper). The largest explosion from the PEPCON fire was an air burst equivalent to about 250 tons of TNT or as this DOD Explosives Safety Board report suggests, the same effect as a 1-kiloton nuclear air burst. Just to give you an idea of how powerful that explosion was, this U.S. Fire Administration report mentions that at seven miles out the explosions cracked glass and blew open doors at Las Vegas's main airport and even buffeted a landing 737.

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