Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Freeport LNG explosion is captured on surveillance footage

Surveillance footage captures the explosion at the Freeport LNG plant on Quintana Island in Texas on June 8, 2022. (Photo: Quintana Beach County Park/Facebook)

'This Is Terrifying': Explosion at Texas Gas Plant Spotlights Threat of LNG Industry

"We shouldn't have to live in fear just so gas executives like Michael Smith can get rich," said one local resident, referring to Freeport LNG's CEO.

Jake Johnson

An explosion at a major liquefied natural gas plant in Texas on Wednesday heightened fears of pollution and other impacts in nearby communities—and served as the latest example of the threat the booming LNG industry poses to the climate.

"Freeport LNG really doesn't care about us. This is not the first fire."

The blast at Freeport LNG's export terminal on Texas' Quintana Island was reported around noon local time, and no injuries have been disclosed. Authorities said the fire and "release" from the explosion were swiftly contained and that an investigation into the cause is underway, but local residents voiced concern that they're going to be kept in the dark.

"This is terrifying," said Melanie Oldham, founder of Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Water in Brazoria County, where the Freeport LNG facility is located. "We've been afraid of a disaster happening ever since Freeport LNG started exporting gas. We shouldn't have to live in fear just so gas executives like [company CEO] Michael Smith can get rich."

"This is dangerous business," Oldham added. "What kind of air monitoring are they doing out there? Will they even be able to tell what the explosion released? And will they tell us? Thankfully it looks like none of the workers or anyone else was injured or killed. We may not be so lucky the next time there's an explosion at this plant, or any of the polluting facilities surrounding us, for that matter."

Surveillance video footage posted to Facebook by Quintana Beach County Park appears to show the first moments of the explosion, which reportedly shook nearby buildings.

"I saw it blow up from my job site—biggest fireball I've ever seen," said one Freeport resident.

The facility, one of the largest LNG export plants in the United States, is expected to shut down for at least three weeks in the wake of the explosion and fire, injecting further chaos into global energy markets already roiled by Russia's war on Ukraine.

One industry analyst told Reuters that the temporary shutdown will likely take 1 million tonnes of LNG off the market.

But Harold Doty, who lives on Quintana Island, warned that "there is still no emergency action plan for that plant" despite Wednesday's explosion.

"Originally, the plant said that people on the island should go to the beach and have the Coast Guard pick them up in boats," said Doty. "Freeport LNG really doesn't care about us. This is not the first fire. There are often fire alarms at the plant that I can hear from my house. I can never get any explanation when I call, so I've quit calling."

The explosion came as U.S. LNG exports to Europe are surging as part of the Biden administration's plan to help E.U. nations wean themselves off Russian fossil fuels. According to federal data released this week, U.S. LNG exports averaged 11.5 billion cubic feet per day during the first four months of this year, an 18% jump compared to the 2021 annual average.

While the fossil fuel industry often characterizes LNG as a more climate-friendly alternative to coal and other dirty energy sources that are driving global warming, environmentalists stress that LNG is a major emitter of methane—a greenhouse gas roughly 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

"In the United States, natural gas accounts for more than one-third of carbon emissions and almost half of methane emissions," notes Marisa Guerrero of the Natural Resources Defense Council.

In a statement Wednesday, Citizens for Clean Air and Clean Water in Brazoria County and the Texas Campaign for the Environment said that "the oil and gas industry has been benefiting from an 'export boom' that is sending gas and crude oil overseas in record amounts, but has resulted in leaks, explosions, and wrecked communities back home—from flaring and pollution in the Permian Basin to explosions like the one today on Quintana Island."

"Officials rarely disclose the contents of the tanks that explode, leaving local residents to just have to wonder whether or not they are in danger," the groups continued. "The boom is also jeopardizing global climate agreements, as the window to rein in emissions is closing."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Green Groups Say Ruptured Oil Pipeline Should Be Scrapped—Not Repaired

"We need to quickly phase out all dangerous, failing offshore oil infrastructure, not issue more permits that invite the next disaster," said one campaigner.

Julia Conley ·

Oxfam Warns World Bank 'Could Be Significantly Overstating' Climate Spending

"It is alarming―at a time when climate change is driving such damage and poverty and hunger around the world―that we could find so little clarity about the quality and quantity of these financial flows."

Jessica Corbett ·

Brazilians Elect Three Transgender Progressives to Congress

"The struggle does not stop here, but continues and grows from that moment," said one victorious candidate. "Now my commitment is to elect Lula president at the end of October and I call on all my voters to do the same!"

Brett Wilkins ·

Supreme Court Gives Biden DOJ a Chance to Prove Its Commitment to Climate Justice

"Doubling down on the department's Trump-era support of Big Oil would constitute a betrayal," said one climate organization.

Jake Johnson ·

New Reporting Exposes Dr. Oz as 'Malicious Scam Artist,' Says Fetterman

"Everything he says has been a scam to help himself—not the viewers, not the voters," the Democratic Senate candidate said of his opponent.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo