On July 26, 2012, an explosion ripped through the Bunga Alpinia 3, a ship loading 15,000 tons of methanol in Malaysia, killing five crewmen. It had been struck by lightning. The nearby methanol plant and local power plant were damaged and shut down as a precaution. The ship, built in 2010, was modern.
At 15,000 tons, it will require 10 methanol tankers a week to equal the planned methanol output of the proposed Tacoma plant. How many tankers will be needed to keep up with an output of 20,000 tons a day? Can the Port of Tacoma handle the traffic safely?
It is not clear whether any U.S. government agencies can even specify engineering standards for the tankers, regulate their operations or impose safety standards on them. If the Chinese operate their tankers the same way they operate their chemical plants, we should assume significant tanker risks.