Rapid River site


The propane extraction plant in Rapid River, located at the Enbridge site, is owned by Plains Midstream Canada (PMC). I was curious to find out just how much propane is stored there and hit brick walls. When I contacted Delta Schoolcraft Emergency Management I was refereed to the PMC plant operations supervisor who referred me to corporate PMC Media Relations…zilch. There are two large propane tanks across US 41. I estimate they hold 10,000 plus gallons each. This extraction plant has an enormous dome for the extracted natural gas liquid (NGL). Next to it are four extremely long tanks. I estimate these to hold 100,000 gallons of propane/NGL each. When we add these estimated volumes, we get 420,000 gallons of propane/NGL in addition to what the natural gas dome and pipes contain. On July 5, 1973, Kingman, AZ, was the site of a catastrophic BLEVE (Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion) which killed 11 firefighters.

The explosion occurred following a fire that broke out as 33,000 gallons of propane was being transferred from a railroad car to a storage tank. A leak was detected in one of the fittings and an attempt was made to correct it by striking the fitting with a large wrench. The gas ignited and turned the tank car into a huge blowtorch enveloping the repairmen. A large crowd of spectators congregated along Route 66. Nothing separated them from the burning tank car except two hundred yards of open desert. Then the tank car exploded. The explosion sent debris and flames 2,000 feet away. The three-ton end of the half-inch-thick metal tanker landed a quarter mile down the tracks. There was a crater 10 feet deep where the tank car had been sitting. Flaming propane sprayed by the explosion along with falling debris from this cloud, ignited buildings in the vicinity and burning the onlookers. Mohave General Hospital received 107 explosion casualties by way of the one ambulance, private cars, police cars, and anything else available. Planes and Highway Patrol and Air Force helicopters from two Air Force bases flew the most seriously burned victims to hospitals at Phoenix, 175 miles to the southeast, and Las Vegas, NV., 100 miles to the northwest. Air tankers from the Bureau of Land Management used for fighting range and forest fires, dumped fire retardant on the flaming desert. What an unimaginable horror. The Delta County Hazard Mitigation Plan August 19, 2015- approved by FEMA- Delta County Hazard Mitigation Plan | Chapter 3 – HAZARDS – Page 36, references the Rapid River dome. “If this dome were to explode, the affected area covers approximately a five mile radius and includes residential areas and businesses.” That’s just the dome. How about adding 420,000 gallons? Worst case scenario, would the radius from this colossal blast exceed 5 miles? The Line 5 pipeline feeding the plant would certainly rupture contributing to the fiery maelstrom. The Delta County Hazard Mitigation Plan does not cover this propane/NGL worst case scenario.

Gerry Niedermaier



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