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San Francisco Airport Votes to Terminate Hydrogen Fueling Station

Fears of a “catastrophic” gas explosion will likely kill plans to build a $3 million hydrogen vehicle fueling station at San Francisco International Airport, the San Mateo County Times reports.

Lease negotiations have broken off with the proposed operator, Linde LLC, and on June 26, airport commissioners were expected to vote to terminate the negotiations, decline grant funds and cancel the project, which would have fueled hydrogen buses used by SFO.

According to the newspaper, airport director John Martin wrote a letter to the commission, saying Linde LLC rejected airport officials’ demand to accept full legal responsibility should an accident happen at the fueling station site. A hydrogen explosion near the runways and a highway “could be catastrophic and result in significant loss of life,” he wrote.

NBC reports SFO has already spent $61,000 to prepare for the fueling station.

San Mateo County Times says cancelling the project will mean the airport will also have to give up about $1.7 million in state grants and another $2.4 million slated for Calstart, the firm hired to build a hydrogen-powered bus.

The US’s first hydrogen fueling station opened in Torrance, Calif., in May 2001. A collaborative effort between Toyota, Air Products, Shell, South Coast Air Quality Management District and the DOE, the station provides hydrogen for Toyota’s fuel cell hybrid demonstration program vehicles and other manufacturers’ fuel cell vehicle fleets in the Los Angeles area. Toyota plans to release a fuel cell vehicle to market in 2015.

A Pike Research report predicts more than 5,200 hydrogen fueling stations for cars, buses and forklifts will be operational by 2020, up from 200 stations in 2010.

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