Federal officials ordered at least two storage tanks shut down at a Cameron Parish Liquefied Natural Gas facility on Thursday. The tanks, owned and operated by Cheniere Energy at Sabine Pass LNG, were found to have several cracks and showed the potential for leaks.

The problem appears to have been caused by a compromise between the inner wall and the outer wall of the massive storage tank. The -260 degree liquefied natural gas appears to have seeped between the two walls and created cracks in the outer carbon steel wall. It is believed that these cracks have allowed for some leaking.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration has been reviewing the problem since it was first notified of the situation January 22nd. Thursday, February 8th, a shutdown order was issued for the storage facilities in question.

The shutdown was based on the belief that the compromised storage facilities could put workers and contractors at the facility in harm's way. There were also concerns that the situation could present a hazard for citizens in nearby communities such as Johnsons Bayou. The report also cited a potential disruption in transportation corridors on both land and water should the situation escalate.

Federal investigators noted in their report that there appear to have been at least 11 other incidents involving cracks at this particular storage tank and at least one other storage tank at the Sabine Pass complex. Each tank has the capacity to hold 3.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas in its gaseous state.

Following the shutdown order, Cheniere Energy of Houston Texas released this statement.

Safety is Cheniere's number one priority, and we want to stress that there was and is no immediate danger to our community, workforce, or our facility from this incident, nor is there any impact on LNG production. Cheniere has initiated an event investigation and is currently working with experts on a repair plan. We will continue to work with PHMSA to quickly address this incident.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission notified Chenier that the storage facilities in question will not be allowed to return to production without a written authorization from the commission.

Even before the shutdown order was received officials at Chenier Energy had begun the process of emptying the huge storage tank but the tank still held a considerable amount of product.