oil spill

Wed, 2013-05-01 09:37Ben Jervey
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While Exxon Spins on Mayflower Tar Sands Spill Cleanup, Oil Threatens Fishing Lake and Arkansas River

ExxonMobil would sure like you to think that everything is just fine down in Mayflower, Arkansas. That the roughly 5,000 barrel tar sands crude spill was regrettable, but the town will be soon restored to its unspoiled state. That, in terms of clean up, they’re totally on it.

I mean, just look at their workers scrubbing away on the oiled ducks and turtles in this sleek little video:

Mon, 2013-04-08 17:45Carol Linnitt
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PHOTOS: Mayflower, Arkansas Residents Launch Class Action Lawsuit After Exxon Tar Sands Disaster

Residents of Mayflower, Arkansas, are suing ExxonMobil for damages in a class action lawsuit that is seeking more than $5 million in compensation for property damage.

“This Arkansas class action lawsuit involves the worst crude oil and tar sands spill in Arkansas history,” the lawsuit reads. The filed claim indicates more than 19,000 barrels of oil were spilled.

Both the Attorney General Dustin McDaniel and the US Department of Transportation's Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration (PHMSA) have indicated investigations into the pipeline rupture are ongoing.

Between 2010 and 2012, pipeline incidents incurred more than $662 million in property damages annually. More than 20 years of PHMSA records indicate levels of pipeline related accidents are consistent - around 250 occur each year - while the cost of those accidents is steadily increasing.

These recently released images show the scope of the damage has grown far beyond the nearby residential street:

Fri, 2013-04-05 15:33Carol Linnitt
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Shell Pipeline Spill Is Fourth Disaster In Bad Week for Keystone XL Promoters

Last Friday, as national attention turned to the massive Exxon Pegasus tar sands pipeline spill in Mayflower, Arkansas, another oil spill was occurring near Houston, Texas. Operators of a Royal Dutch Shell subsidiary's West Columbia pipeline, a 15 mile long, 16 inch diameter line, received warnings from the US National Response Center of a potential 700 barrel release (nearly 30,000 gallons) of crude oil on Friday, March 29.

Yesterday, representatives from the US Coast Guard acknowledged at least 50 barrels of oil had entered Vince Bayou, a waterway connected to the Gulf of Mexico.

On Monday, April 1, Shell spokeswoman Kimberly Windon told Reuters “no evidence” of a crude oil leak had been found. “Right now, we haven't seen anything,” she said at the time. Investigators have since determined at least 60 barrels of the spilled oil had entered the Bayou. It is unclear at this time what kind of crude oil the pipeline carried.

DeSmog contacted Shell Pipelines US media relations department to inquire about the type and size of the spill but did not receive a reply by the time of publication.

Steven Lehman, Coast Guard Petty Officer told Dow Jones, “That's a very early estimate - things can change.”

Fri, 2013-04-05 14:47Matthew Linnitt
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Average 250 Pipeline Accidents Each Year, Billions Spent on Property Damage

If only this were milk there would be no need to cry.

Cleanup efforts are currently underway in four separate oil spills that have occurred in the last ten days.

On March 27th, a train carrying Canadian tar sands dilbit jumped the rails in rural Minnesota spilling an estimated 30,000 gallons of black gold onto the countryside. 

Two days later a pipeline ruptured in the town of Mayflower, Arkansas, sending a river of Albertan tar sands crude gurgling down residential streets. And news is just breaking about a Shell oil spill that occurred the same day in Texas that dumped an estimated 700 barrels, including at least 60 barrels of oil into a waterway that leads to the Gulf of Mexico (stay tuned for more on that).

This week a Canadian Pacific freight train loaded with oil derailed, spilling its cargo over the Northwest Ontario countryside. Originally reported as a leak of 600 liters, the CBC reported on Thursday that the estimated volume of the spill has increased to 63,000 liters.

The accelerating expansion of Alberta’s tar sands has North America’s current pipeline infrastructure maxed out and, as a result, oil companies have been searching for an alternative way to move their product to market. As lobbying efforts around the stymied Keystone XL and Northern Gateway pipelines intensify, oil companies have been quietly loading their toxic cargo onto freight trains.

Fri, 2013-04-05 10:37Ben Jervey
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Colbert Report on the Exxon Pegasus Tar Sands Oil Spill

A quick break for some Friday afternoon comic relief. As only Colbert can, he highlights the absurdity and somehow culls the funny out of a freaking oil spill. And he hits the most important points, too: the Pegasus-Keystone XL comparisons and the fact that it's not an “oil spill,” but a “bitumen spill.” Oh, and “oil soaked Neils.” 

Here's Stephen Colbert on the spill:

 

Wed, 2013-04-03 16:34Carol Linnitt
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Tar Sands Tax Loophole Cost US Oil Spill Fund $48 Million in 2012, Will Cost $400 Million by 2017

A tax loophole exempting tar sands pipeline operators from paying an eight-cent tax per barrel of oil they transport in the US is costing the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund millions of dollars every year. With expected increases in tar sands oil production over the next five years, this loophole may have deprived US citizens of $400-million dollars worth of critical oil-spill protection funds come 2017.

According to a report by the US Natural Resources Committee the federal government pays for immediate oil-spill response from the Liability Trust Fund which is supported by an excise tax on all crude oil and gas products in the US.

But in 2011 the Internal Revenue Service exempted tar sands oil from the tax, saying the substance did not fit the characterization of crude oil.

This exemption has come under scrutiny this week after Exxon Mobil's Pegasus pipeline ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, releasing 300,000 litres of tar sands oil and water into a residential neighbourhood and surrounding wetlands. Because the line carried tar sands-derived oil from Alberta, Exxon was exempt from paying into the spill liability fund for the corrosive fuel's potential cleanup.

Wed, 2013-04-03 13:51Ben Jervey
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Can We Trust Exxon To Pay for Pegasus Tar Sands Spill Cleanup? Their History Suggests Otherwise

ExxonMobil is getting defensive about its response plans for the tar sands pipeline spill in Arkansas. The company took to Twitter this afternoon to respond to what it called “allegations” that Exxon isn't liable for the full costs of cleaning up their tar sands crude spill in Mayflower, Arkansas.  

Here's the tweet from @exxonmobil sent in response to critics who pointed out that, because of a major loophole that needs to be closed, bitumen is not considered crude oil, and therefore tar sands pipeline operators like Exxon aren't required to pay into the oil spill cleanup fund

A couple of things to unpack here.

Tue, 2013-04-02 15:30Carol Linnitt
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Because 'Bitumen is not Oil,' Pipelines Carrying Tar Sands Crude Don't Pay into US Oil Spill Fund

As Think Progress has just reported, a bizarre technicality allowed Exxon Mobil to avoid paying into the federal oil spill fund responsible for cleanup after the company's Pegasus pipeline released 12,000 barrels of tar sands oil and water into the town of Mayflower, Arkansas.

According to a thirty-year-old law in the US, diluted bitumen coming from the Alberta tar sands is not classified as oil, meaning pipeline operators planning to transport the corrosive substance across the US - with proposed pipelines like the Keystone XL - are exempt from paying into the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.

News that Exxon was spared from contributing the 8-cents-per-barrel fee to the clean-up fund added insult to injury this week as cleanup crews discovered oil-soaked ducks covered in “low-quality Wabasca Heavy Crude from Alberta.” Yesterday officials said 10 live ducks were found covered in oil, as well as a number of oiled ducks already deceased.

Thu, 2013-03-07 05:00Farron Cousins
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EPA Accused Of Blocking Scientific Advancement of Corexit In BP Cleanup

Oil Spill Eater International (OSEI), through the Gulf Oil Spill Remediation Conference group, issued a press release this week saying that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effectively blocked or otherwise delayed scientific advancement in the cleanup of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil disaster by refusing to acknowledge the toxicity of the oil dispersant Corexit.

According to OSEI, the EPA is guilty of violations to the Clean Water Act because they knowingly used the toxic dispersant instead of opting for cleaner, less toxic methods of oil spill cleanup.

OSEI is actually not off base with their accusations.  Reports from late 2012 revealed that using oil dispersants like Corexit make oil spills less visible, but when combined with the oil, create a mixture that is 52 times more toxic than the oil itself.  The studies revealed that even in small amounts, the combination of oil and Corexit reduced the number of egg hatchings in small marine invertebrates by 50%.  These are small creatures like krill, shrimp, and other crustaceans that form the bottom of the oceanic food pyramid.

Those results were just from small doses of the mixture.  And as I wrote in 2011, the amount of Corexit dumped into the Gulf was anything but “small”:

Mon, 2013-01-07 10:14Ashley Arden
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W&T Offshore Fined $1 Million for Using Coffee Filters to Doctor Water Samples

W&T Offshore Oil & Gas Logo

Bizarre new details of just how W&T Offshore Oil & Gas contractors doctored water samples came to light last Thursday when W&T officially pled guilty to criminal charges under the Clean Water Act for tampering with water samples and failing to report a spill back in 2009 off of their Ewing Banks Block 910 platform, 175 miles south of New Orleans in the Gulf of Mexico.

W&T admitted that their contractors ran contaminated water samples through coffee filters to remove oil and other pollutants before turning them over for testing.

While the company had secured a permit to dump waste water back into the Gulf, W&T Offshore was required to monitor and report the oil levels in the liquid.

W&T also admitted to failing to report a sheen of oil around the 910 platform that they tried (but failed) to clean up for several weeks after another incident in which an angry worker shot off a flare in November of 2009, which they also failed to report to the Coast Guard.

David Hammer at Eyewitness News reported that when Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Officers inspected the platform, they still found oil staining on the platform deck and a visible sheen in the water, all of which W&T failed to report as required.

As part of the guilty plea agreement, W&T Offshore was ordered to pay $1 million (a fine of $700,000 and $300,000 for community service), will be under probation for three years and will be required to implement an environmental compliance program.

W&T Offshore is headed by founder and CEO Tracy Krohn and operates some 107 platforms in the Gulf.

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