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Guest Post: Are Pipeline Spills A Foregone Conclusion?

Tyler Durden's picture


Submitted by Daniel Graeber of,

Exxon Mobil hasn't asked federal regulatory authorities to restart the Pegasus oil pipeline, which burst open in a neighborhood in Mayflower, Ark.  In March, a 22-foot rupture in the pipeline spilled about 5,000 barrels of diluted Canadian crude oil into an area of marshland, though the company said it's been effectively cleaning the area with long-term remediation in mind. Policymakers on both sides of the Canadian crude oil debate have focused on issues ranging from emissions to economic stimulus. If pipelines like Keystone XL have any chance of approval, perhaps pipeline integrity should be the focal point of real policy debates.

Exxon said it was still looking into what caused a 22-foot gash to appear in the wall of its 65-year-old Pegasus oil pipeline. Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said his office was pouring over 12,500 pages of information sent to his office by Exxon. Those documents were related to maintenance, inspection and safety of the 850-mile oil pipeline. Exxon, for its part, said it was combing over data taken from inside the pipeline itself in an effort to figure out what happened before the spill. That inspection, a spokesman said, could take at least another month.

Exxon already removed the damaged section and replaced it with new pipe. About a month after the Arkansas incident, about a barrel of oil leaked from the same pipeline about 200 miles north of Mayflower. The "wait and see" reaction to the Pegasus spill, and potentially the delay in the restart, may be part of Exxon's evaluation of the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline. Last week, a measure dubbed the Northern Route Approval Act passed through a Republican-led committee on its way to the full House. The bill would leave the fate of Keystone Xl in the hands of policymakers, who may have a vested interest in seeing that the project gets built.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., cast his vote against the Northern Route Approval Act. He expressed frustration that lawmakers were moving the debate away from renewable energy and focusing more on how best to circumvent normal review processes. Last year, the White House passed new laws that would stiffen the penalties for pipeline safety violations and mandate more inspections. That decision followed a 1,000-barrel spill in the Yellowstone River and a 20,000-barrel spill in Michigan. Lawmakers debating Keystone XL, however, have pressed for few additional assurances for pipeline integrity.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Council on Foreign Relations last week the "real" environmental issue with oil from Canada was whether it traveled through a pipeline or by rail.  One of the "real" issues has to do with emissions. Upstream, emissions work out to be "almost nothing globally," the prime minister said. Downstream, it's more likely that a train will derail than a pipeline will burst open, he said.

Talking points over pipelines are focused on economic and energy security interests on one side of the argument versus emissions and cleanup on the other. Given the legacy of pipeline spills since the Keystone XL debate began more than four years ago, the "real" issue may be the lack of debate over just why so many of these pipelines have burst open in the first place.


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Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:10 | 3597547 Fuku Ben
Fuku Ben's picture

Yes pipelines are phallic symbols for the psychopaths

"Last year, the White House passed new laws that would stiffen the penalties for pipeline safety violations and mandate more inspections."

I bet they sought to stiffen them

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:50 | 3597621 General Decline
General Decline's picture

If you or me dump a gallon of oil down the sewer, were going to environmental prison. Not that I advocate it. I don't. If Exxon does it, it's a slap on the wrist. Yeah, we don't live in a two-tiered society, do we?

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:21 | 3597802 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Then again, your used oil doesn't serve as the primary constraining input to capitalism itself. does it?

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 01:21 | 3597891 Pinto Currency
Pinto Currency's picture


Apparently, the Rockefellers don't want oil pipelines:

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 07:18 | 3598088 negative rates
negative rates's picture

When you have a false premise, you get a false answer. The pipeline needs to be cleaned or replaced or it will burst once again in a different location. A chain is only as strong as it's weakest link.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 07:24 | 3598093 GetZeeGold
GetZeeGold's picture



I vote we ship the oil on uncle Warren's trains and pay $5.00 gallon gas.


Oh wait....I vote for $1.50 gas and if anything leaks we'll fix it. Yeah....that sounds a lot better.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 08:04 | 3598123 kaiserhoff
kaiserhoff's picture

For Fuck's Sake, to quote Mother Jones Tyler.

Pipelines are by far the safest and most efficient way to transport anything that flows.

If spoiled brat urban kids don't like oil, they should stick with their skate boards forever, which seems to be happening more and more.  But if you have food to eat and a warm place to sleep, some respect for the grown-ups who do the real work in this country is long overdue. 

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 09:36 | 3598204 tango
tango's picture

I am still waiting for Tyler or the ZH sheeple for an alternative to fuel lines, oil, nuclear, etc.   It's like the idiots who get on here bitching about society choosing to buy tech toys while they're hammering on a damn computer!  They never see the utter incongruity of their actions. 

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 10:43 | 3598274 Stackers
Stackers's picture

Shit Happens. The world is not a zero risk game. See ZH slogan for details.

Cars wreck

Planes crash

Pipelines burst

its what they do.


Sat, 05/25/2013 - 12:38 | 3598414 Pinto Currency
Pinto Currency's picture


Please read the last sentence again. 

I do not think Tyler and ZH are not anti-pipeline and there is an important question in that sentence.


Given the legacy of pipeline spills since the Keystone XL debate began more than four years ago, the "real" issue may be the lack of debate over just why so many of these pipelines have burst open in the first place.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 13:19 | 3598472 viator
viator's picture

How many pipelines burst and what was the damage?

A few facts might help the debate. My guess is that the percentage of oil spilled by pipeline failure is an infinitesimal fraction of the total volume of oil transported.

This is just another attack on the hydrocarbons, the life blood of capitalism.  It needs to be thrown in the garbage pail of history along with global warming.


Sat, 05/25/2013 - 12:01 | 3598360 smlbizman
smlbizman's picture

i dont think we need your view....we can just use a can of flex seal and if we order it today we get an extra can and aerogrip sprayer for free..........

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 10:13 | 3598244 Black-Man
Black-Man's picture

Wow... former president of GM Finance (aka Ally Bank... aka bailout city) bank rolling the tree huggers. What a twisted world we live in.



Fri, 05/24/2013 - 22:03 | 3597647 Stuart
Stuart's picture

it's way too convenient to have these spills during the keystone debate.   Sabatoge for some very likely. 


Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:22 | 3597805 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

If I ever put a hole in one of those pipelines, it'll be for a siphon; I promise I won't spill a fucking drop.


Sat, 05/25/2013 - 08:55 | 3598053 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

Industry experience in Africa says you won't be the only one doing it, and not everyone would be so conscientious...

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 02:53 | 3598000 SubjectivObject
SubjectivObject's picture

By the token of long time, there are significant degenerations that can occur from both inside and outside the pipe.  Gas pipelines can also be subject to many time related degenerative conditions, but unless failure sparks a torch, nothing is ever heard about it.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 04:58 | 3598041 pcrs
pcrs's picture

Someone has a financial advantage from spills and that advantage is stiffening

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 13:16 | 3598466 Canadian Dirtlump
Canadian Dirtlump's picture

as long as the us govt and regulators are bought, then everything will be worse than it should be. Even train derailments where warren buffet transports an increasing amount of crude.

doing things wrong doesnt mean they shouldnt and cant be done right. my company puts hundreds of miles of pipe in the ground every year with nary a problem.


Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:11 | 3597549 Tortuga
Tortuga's picture

The pipeline burst because of:

1. Burst pressure of the pipe was exceeded.

2. 65 yr old pipe has less burst pressure than new pipe because of friction.

Whomever owns/inspects the particular pipelines; knows why it burst.


RICO all banksters and their ho politicians.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:51 | 3597626 Stuck on Zero
Stuck on Zero's picture

I believe that documents will show that the duct tape used to repair the pipe last time was chewed through by an Arkansas prarie gopher.


Fri, 05/24/2013 - 22:30 | 3597697 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

I live just a few miles from Mayflower.  If you think this shit is funny just come on down here -- and bring a roll of paper towels with you.  It's all fun and games until it's YOUR house that is now worth nothing.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:01 | 3597766 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture

If they want to build more pipelines, then they had better make sure that these kinds of ruptures and spills are rarer than they appear to be now.

Normally I would be in favor in this kind of infrastructure.  But, these spills seem to be wholly preventable.  Time to lock someone up?

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:23 | 3597811 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

You ever safe-guard more than a 100 miles of anything?

That's like saying Moore, OK was wholly preventable (which it was, as long as you're okay with noone ever living there).


Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:53 | 3597856 DoChenRollingBearing
DoChenRollingBearing's picture



GMadScientist, you wrote:

"You ever safe-guard more than a 100 miles of anything?"

Of course not.  But, they used bad pipe in Peru (and probably here as well, somewhere...) when building their pipelines.  More preventive maintenance should be done.  The pipeline companies now even showed "pigs" (devices which they pump through pipelines looking for cracks, etc.) in an ad I saw recently.

And of course almost nothing is "wholly preventable".  I fail to see where we disagree, sloppiness leading to at least somewhat preventable accidents should be punished.


OK, I see I wrote "wholly preventable" above, bad choice of words.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 00:57 | 3597933 Slewburger
Slewburger's picture

It is 100% preventable.

The problem is the companies dont spend the money to maintain and inspect these pipelines. The culture is changing, but the smaller companies that run these sections of pipeline  think  they can get away without it. The article may say Exxon but I wouldnt be surprised if they pay someone to manage the section of this thing to relieve them of liability. At that point they just audit their performance.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 05:50 | 3598055 Urban Redneck
Urban Redneck's picture

The imperative from TPTB is cheap energy to feed cheap GDP growth. 

The irony is that that the disingenuous green weanies are also against refining the oil closer to the source, which would both mitigate the environmental risk and increase EROI, while decreasing strategic supply shock risks associated with concentration of refining and distribution capacity in hurricane alley.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 09:41 | 3598209 tango
tango's picture

First, nothing is 100% preventable.  What you're implying is rather than spend a modest yearly sum to maintain, "companies" (don't you like the generalizations around here?) would rather wait and spend 100 times that amount on fixing an oil spill?   Reminds me of our times - any accident is a cause for blame, conspiracy (they did it on purpose) and, of course, more laws and regulation.  

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 12:38 | 3598415 Matt
Matt's picture

First, it depends on what you are determining is preventable: pipleine breaks, or pipeline breaks due to lack of maintenance. Secondly, please provide a source that the cost of cleanup is 100 times greater than replacing an aging section of pipeline.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 08:37 | 3598154 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

True enough that we're in vehement near-agreement, my groovy Peruvian.

The problem with wanting better "oversight" for lack of a better term, is that it tends to be self-enforced by industry or at best some government lackey that is more concerned with putting crystal meth up his nose (see Dubya administration and their analogs under Obama). Regulatory capture is all fun and parabaloid profits until they happen to royally fuck up your particular day.

Maybe that's an acceptable side-effect of capitalism, an externality we tolerate though it hurts a few, but helps the many? Maybe it's merely a side-effect of crony capitalism, but we're all okay with the Fascists as long as the trains run on time? Maybe a mixed economy which pays more attention to these rather relevant details that somehow aren't properly represented on balance sheets until they're funding trusts for cleanup would be more sustainable?

I see work that could be done to improve our lives and people who need work; this should be a no-brainer. ;)


Sat, 05/25/2013 - 12:40 | 3598416 Matt
Matt's picture

Simpler regulations, with less oversight, but a flat penalty applied evenly to every person, regardless of whether they are a poor worker, government employee, or corporation. How about just a flat $100,000 per gallon fine?

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 17:37 | 3598803 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Because they'd soon be out of business and you'd be riding a bicycle.

Sun, 05/26/2013 - 01:18 | 3599279 Matt
Matt's picture

Or maintenance and response would become a higher priority.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 00:34 | 3597901 Bobportlandor
Bobportlandor's picture

Hey Rocky Got Google earth?

Do search for     The Tar Pit, North La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA.

Turn on pictures. That's a lake of oil in liberal democrat country and not one person in millions of years has said they needed to clean it up.


Why don't you suggest they put a fence around the spill and charge admission.


Clinton's come from Arkansas, should be no problem.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 08:42 | 3598160 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

Go "Bob" on a junkie's dick, Portland.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 11:08 | 3598300 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

La Brea having nothing to do with nothing -- thanks for the straw man.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 07:33 | 3598102 GCT
GCT's picture

Spot on Rocky not to mention the fuckers kept telling the folks no oil got into lake Conway until some independent minded individuals started doing tests at other sites on the lake.  Lake Conway is one of the Bass Pro tour spots for fishing.  A great fresh water fishing spot.

I am in Conway Rocky.  For those that do not know the pipeline was designed and constructed to flow North with refined oil.  No one was told nor the state for that matter they reversed the flow of the pipeline and it now transports unrefined shale oil.  Of course Exxon will pay a little fine, support Mayflower which is poor to start with, and move on to the next disaster.  Now Exxon is going to buy the subdivision where the oil was every where.  I know I would not move back into those homes.  The smell on I-40 is real bad imagine what it is like in those homes.

Those that do not live here cannot even begin to imagine the damage to our wetlands.  If I knew how to post pictures I would go take some and post them here.  They are still out there cleaning up the mess.  Alot of forest is now gone so the heavy equipment could get in there. 

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 08:45 | 3598162 GMadScientist
GMadScientist's picture

I feel for you; you're exactly right that many won't even understand the scale of the tragedy due to their failure to appreciate what was lost.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 11:12 | 3598304 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

We shall get to see if the AG, Justin McDaniel, is worth his pay.  The guy better nut-up or there will be some folks with torches and pitchforks at the Capitol building looking for some hide.

Sun, 05/26/2013 - 07:06 | 3599417 GCT
GCT's picture

Rocky do you live in Conway?  You stated you were close.   I imagine McDaniel is spending his time defending the new abortion law at 12 weeks.  Instead of focusing on creating jobs in the great state of Arkansas our Congress passes two new laws.  The first is no abortion after 12 weeks.  A very stupid law and the next one is another abortion bill at 20 weeks.  I can wrap my head around the 20 week bill but our Congress is like so many other political entities.  They focus on other issues instead of jobs.  Oh by the way the governement sector actually provides more jobs then the private sector in this good state lol!

Mon, 05/27/2013 - 23:57 | 3602710 RockyRacoon
RockyRacoon's picture

All this turmoil is our fault.  We find the most clueless morons we can find and put them in the Legislature.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 00:33 | 3597904 Slewburger
Slewburger's picture



1. Corrosion (Galvanic or Environmental).

2. Flaw growth (Fatigue).

3. Sabotage (Buffet).

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 03:13 | 3598011 SubjectivObject
SubjectivObject's picture

The term "envirionmental" corrosion generalizes many different corrosion (fundamentally electrochemical) mechanisms that can occur due to conditons either inside or outside the pipe. The variety of the mechanisms and morphology of the associated metal degeneration weighs against your assertion of "100% preventable".  Which is not to say that additional detection and mitication techniques cannot be applied.

Flaw growth associated with the sress corrosion cracking mechanism does not require stress cycling (which is characteristic of "fatigue").  Flaw propagation from crevice or pitting corrosion requires  neither monotonic nor cyclical superimposed stess.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 13:29 | 3598441 Slewburger
Slewburger's picture

I didnt realize my little joke would draw criticism for over generalizing from an ASME fellow.

SCC is ultimately environmental, but can occur under constant or cyclic stress.

Internal flaw growth could have occured regardless of environment, dependent on stress/time history only. This section of pipeline could have been 65 years old and made from dirty material (stringers, inclusions, laps, seams). The list goes on and on.

I think your statements make a compelling case for regular MP and UT inspection.

Simple corrosion rate calculations do not cut it. BP can attest to this. 


Sat, 05/25/2013 - 16:46 | 3598737 de3de8
de3de8's picture

Don't forget erosion.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 04:40 | 3598035 Wile-E-Coyote
Wile-E-Coyote's picture

Pipe bursts can be calculated and estimated, it is a well known Engineering science.

Pipes will burst for a number of reasons, over pressure, erosion of the inner surface causing thinning and therefore increased Hoop stress, fatigue cracking, good old fashinoned rust equals thinning see Hoop stress.

The long and the short of it is all pipelines have a life span, once that has been exceeded all bets are off. If no remedial maintenance is done or lines replaced then pipe failures are 100% certain. Now whoever owns that land could have a good court case if they persued the facts. My guess the oil company will have that burst removed PDQ.

Get a sample of pipe the rest will follow.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:11 | 3597550 jonjon831983
jonjon831983's picture

Funny enough, in the news there have been a couple railway oil transport derailments.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 00:35 | 3597905 Zigs
Zigs's picture

50,000 gallons of ethanol down the river.  The fish aren't complaining.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:13 | 3597554 Encroaching Darkness
Encroaching Darkness's picture

As long as we are addicted to crude, Steven Harper's right: will it travel by pipeline, rail or tanker?

Maintaining the infrastructure is not a trivial matter; regular inspection, cathodic protection and coatings, and physical protection all have their place. But in a local instance, a lightning bolt hit a metal fence post, jumped to the nearby pipeline and burned a hole in it. The leak was small enough to avoid immediate detection, and it took several days to be noticed, the pipeline shut down and repairs made. The cleanup took weeks, since hundreds of barrels of crude spilled out the (rather small, afterall; less than 3/8 inch diameter) hole.

But no one wants a spill; the Exxon Valdez was no fun for anyone. Trains do derail; millions of barrels of crude travel nationwide every day by pipeline without incident. Sort of like air travel; you're much more likely to die by car accident than airline crash, although the death toll in an INDIVIDUAL plane crash can be horrific. Overall, air travel is quite safe (once you get past the TSA).

It has to do with our perception of risk; Nassim Taleb addresses it in one of his books, I think. Bottom line: if you insist on using oil products, it has to get from Left Buttockistan where it occurs to wherever the refineries are located. Barring a perfect world, some will spill; choose how, when and where as you like.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:15 | 3597557 LetThemEatRand
LetThemEatRand's picture

"Overall, air travel is quite safe (once you get past the TSA)."

And if you're really lucky, no TSA's agent pipe will burst all over you during the frisking procedure.  Because it's all for the children.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:04 | 3597772 Hotel Romeo
Hotel Romeo's picture

The safest way to move oil is by pipeline. The safest pipelines are new pipelines. These are facts.

If we are going to use 25,000,000 barrels of oil per day some leaks are inevitable.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:13 | 3597556 Gringo Viejo
Gringo Viejo's picture

Like the American standard of living?

Everybody wants to go to Heaven but nobody wants to go now.

I can live with oil spills if it allows me to drive my car and keeps the lights on.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:06 | 3597776 spinone
spinone's picture

I can live with oil spills in someone else's backyard if it allows me to drive my car

There, fixed it for you.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 07:35 | 3598107 GCT
GCT's picture

Gringo that shit is in our back yards!!! 

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:18 | 3597565 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

I recall back in the day when Nigerian’s where using blow darts to sabotage pipelines. Does that count?


Niger Delta 

Who wants to bet that once new Obama immigration laws are passed, the Keystone pipeline will endure the same attacks? Same game plan to create fear/immobilization amongst peasants;  different localized region of course.  Food for thought.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:26 | 3597583 Encroaching Darkness
Encroaching Darkness's picture

You also get the occasional idiot who wants to "tap" the pipeline for a little free oil. This kind of thing used to be more common in the oil fields themselves, and the looted crude would be sold on the spot market. Lately, that kind of activity is more frequent in Nigeria than other places as well.

Wire fraud, banking / email fraud, crude oil theft from pipelines - what is it about Nigeria? Is it just publicized more, or is there something in their water over there?

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 22:27 | 3597691 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

It's one of many missing links for the central planners agenda, you'll understand in time. Connect the dots on what countries who don't participate within central banking policies. See below post.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:30 | 3597587 A Lunatic
A Lunatic's picture

Is EVERYTHING really a partisan issue these days??

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 09:46 | 3598217 tango
tango's picture

Not partisan but ideological.  I am absolutely convinced that if one of the Tylers wrote a piece about Ron Paul and how he had made some innocuous statement and was no longer to be trusted, within minutes a hurricane of comments would appear.  "Yeah, I always thought so."  "About bitching time"   "I heard he knew some Jews."  "He doesn't really own all that gold."   I swear, these folks would believe the sun was an icebox pie.  

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:36 | 3597594 Element
Element's picture

If in Syria, yes.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:43 | 3597604 Seize Mars
Seize Mars's picture

Pipeline spill? Wasn't that the one with Sophie Marceau? She's so hot.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:44 | 3597607 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

Recently, a softball was thrown by crafty IMF PR attempts. No bites


Nigeria Made a Big Mistake Not Taking IMF Loan - Dr Idika Kalu| April 7, 2013


Translation: If you bastards in Africa resist our IMF poverty loan program, we’ll implant militant adversaries to cause public chaos. You’ll comply one way or another. We under no circumstances expect resistance during the implementation process of our Central Bank.


Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:51 | 3597627 Seize Mars
Seize Mars's picture


Good catch. Amazing, isn't it? Brutal.

Each day I am more convinced that it's no more complicated than the existence of paper money itself: eliminate fiat, and the legions of criminals will have no craft. The IMF disgusts any civilized person. Their existence is a bane.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 09:50 | 3598222 tango
tango's picture

Nigeria is proof positive that presence of resources do not guarantee prosperity.  The nation could become the bread basked of Africa as well as its energy provider and what does it do?  Engage in religious and (mainly) tribal fighting 24/7.  It squanders its oil revenues not on roads or schools or infrastructure but on bribes, empty enormous buildings and Swiss bank accounts.   The county is descending into slumhood (and quickly).   Don't run around blaming the IMF for their screwed up country.   They've had money, opportunity - even rejecting offers by Shell to build schools and train natives for the jobs. 

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 13:23 | 3598478 Seize Mars
Seize Mars's picture

You are almost right. Yes they have had opportunities - to become a debt laden hell. Screw that. The west has gleefully sold them arms and dope.

Do you know the recipe for prosperity?

1. Property rights and enforceable contracts

2. Equity based money

Abundance of natural resources, as you pointed out, is nice but clearly guarantees nothing. There is no such thing as a "national character," that is, they are not violent and poverty stricken because they are indigenous, which I assume was your implication. So in other words, adherence to items 1 and 2 will suffice. Being black doesn't matter. The IMF is a criminal organization and regularly funds Marxist mass murder - every where they go.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 21:53 | 3597630 Hail Spode
Hail Spode's picture

They don't tend to crack like that- over 20 feet long, for no reason.   I wonder if a dozer hit it, or a loaded timber truck weny over it off the normal beaten path?

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:08 | 3597781 Hotel Romeo
Hotel Romeo's picture

The pipeline was 65 years old. Who knows what kind of shitty steel was used in the construction. Intelligent Pigging should have detected a weakness, if it was performed.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 13:24 | 3598482 nevadan
nevadan's picture

A split that long is more than likely the long seam in the pipe.  Welding technology of the day was not nearly as good as it is today.  Long seams are the weak point in any pipe, much more so on older pipe.  Once a split in a seam occurs it progagates readily along the seam so a small defect can cause a large failure.  A smart pig may have found that defect but lines that old were built long before smart pigging technology and probably have many places that would not allow a pig to pass, such as to short radius bends or flat spots in the bends themsleves.  There are hundreds of thousands of miles of pipelines in the US, many of them aging and falling into disrepair.  Same as with bridges, etc.  Fixing stuff costs lots of money that nobody wants to spend.  Expect more of the same in the future.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 22:19 | 3597677 Augustus
Augustus's picture

I only purchase milk certified to come from cows which don't shit or fart.

It seems that the author is following a practice of breathing all of that auto exhaust and recycling to to keep from causing environmental damage.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 22:44 | 3597735 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

 Are nuclear meltdowns a foregone incident?

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:31 | 3597825 q99x2
q99x2's picture

Chinese steel piping.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 00:54 | 3597926 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

Let me finish your important statement..


Chinese steel piping equates to homes build in Cape Coral, FL with Chinese drywall during the 2007 FED housing bubble finally. This mistake would create another pool of short term employment statistics to marginalize GDP fluffing.

Fri, 05/24/2013 - 23:42 | 3597840 e_goldstein
e_goldstein's picture

I've said it before and I'll say it again:
Entropy+ Idiocracy = failing infrastructure. 

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 07:50 | 3598114 Headbanger
Headbanger's picture

You forgot to add in the deliterious effects of faltering fugasity on the systemic stability.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 00:15 | 3597886 WallowaMountainMan
WallowaMountainMan's picture

its just crap. when the future despises the past, it will be us that they despise.

for good reason.

shrivel and shrink o' you of the mighty blather.

commenting is not the same as acting.

so said i to me.



Sat, 05/25/2013 - 00:54 | 3597927 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

     This is good debating Bitchez!  lmao

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 01:01 | 3597937 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

Did you survive the cliff dive? Yes/or No only.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 01:19 | 3597948 Yen Cross
Yen Cross's picture

   Spoken like a well seasoned  politician<  Nice work Atomizer.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 01:08 | 3597940 jgeneric
jgeneric's picture

According to Wikipedia there are about 195,000 miles of oil pipeline in the USA alone.  Just think of the billions of gallons of crude that flow through the lines.  And the grand total of the three spills recited add up to about 26,000 gallons.  That's. It.

Looks to me that all this angst is for absolutely nothing.

Also, how could anyone be surprised a 65 year old pipe burst??


Sat, 05/25/2013 - 01:22 | 3597954 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

By 2017, all automobiles will be equipped with pinwheels to fuel the automobile with obnoxious passengers .

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 02:09 | 3597987 MyBrothersKeeper
MyBrothersKeeper's picture

I was told by someone who leases pipelines etc that today's technology is much better. The pipelines for newer projects have sensors and other things that can alert structural problems etc. The problem is there is still a bunch of older pipelines that would require a lot of money to replace.  I also agree that 3 spills for that amount of pipeline is pretty amazingly low.  I'm actually suprised Greenpeace and others haven't sabatoged more lines.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 05:59 | 3598058 SmittyinLA
SmittyinLA's picture

1 not many pipes have burst

2 they do a real good jod cleaning up here in America

3 the emissions argument is hollow in comparison to our immigration policy, China , Mexico, India or the Middle East


Sat, 05/25/2013 - 11:29 | 3598321 Snisha
Snisha's picture

Sure thing sparky, the "emissions argument" is hollow. Try telling that to the millions of individuals living around the Gulf of Mexico who are forced to contend with the continuing aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill for the rest of their lives.

As a helpful reminder: You may want to hire a C-130 equipped with a spray-rig to perform a flyover application of Corexit on your brilliantly worded second point. "...real good JOD..." indeed!

Here, have a jello pudding pop. Now you go and watch spongebob the grownups are talking.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 07:16 | 3598087 GregGH
GregGH's picture

try this link on WHY pipelines leak .... here is quote ....


"But whistleblowers told us  at Channel 4 Dispatches (the “60 Minutes” of Britain) that the software is deliberately calibrated to ignore or minimize deadly problems.  They know because they themselves worked on the software design team."“error”in-pipeline-safety-equipment-that-could-blow-away-the-gop’s-xl-pipe-dream/


from Greg Palast ....

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 07:22 | 3598090 Judge Crater
Judge Crater's picture

Friday's Wall Street Journal had an article about how two new pipeline projects out west got derailed because the major refiners chose to continue to use railroad tanker cars instead of signing contracts to use a planned oil pipeline.  The refiners figured that the savings from buying oil on the spot market from different suppliers cancelled out the lower cost of pipeline delivery.  The long term remediation costs from an oil spill from a pipeline break probably figured into the refiners' equation.  Unlike lying politicians and phoney environmentalists like Al Gore and Obummer, these big oil refiners operate in the real world.  Oil company executives who make bad decisions that cost their companies big losses could find themselve out of their corner offices and working as consultants. 

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 10:17 | 3598247 Atomizer
Atomizer's picture

Ask yourself a question. Who owns that railroad?

The bitch in the kitchen 

Grandpa, come tuck me in and read a nice bedtime story. I know you like reading 'The Five Dysfunctions of a Team'; but I want you to read me something else. How about Animal Farm? 

/hee hee hoo

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 10:15 | 3598239 Aurora Ex Machina
Aurora Ex Machina's picture

@ Tyler: currently trending in the US is infrastructure.

A road bridge collapsed into a river in the north-western US state of Washington after a girder was hit by an oversized lorry, officials have said. Vehicles and people were thrown into the water after part of the Interstate 5 highway crumbled on Thursday evening. [BBC]

There's nice video and pictures all around, and it's being linked into foreshadowing pieces across the board:

LePatner, who is the author of a book called Too Big to Fall and who routinely offers dire warnings about the condition of America’s vital infrastructure, considers the Tappan Zee his “scary of scaries.” Yet even he was taken aback when, after the speech, a state official sidled up and implied that things were worse, even, than LePatner imagined. The man asked LePatner how often he crosses the bridge. Maybe twice a year, LePatner told him, to go antiquing in Nyack. “That’s enough,” the official replied.[source - Jan 2013]


Looks like that $3 trillion plan (do a GREP on my comments) will get mooted fairly seriously soon. Boys & Girls getting back from the ME (yeah, yeah, we all know the contractors and bases are staying and Africa is the next move but that's got ~3 yrs or so lead in), I'd imagine this might start getting traction, it also features as an off-set to China's slow down. Especially given that the States will need nice large municiple bonds to help pay for their share of it. Might be an early call, but I've a feeling it'll get promoted as a way forward for the Demo / GOP teams to "work together" & resuscitate their currently morbid approval ratings, not to mention actually doing something in the economy that isn't smoke & mirrors paper games. 


That, of course, is if the September rodeo ride is ridden well. Pitch your odds now; then again, the great railways were built with Chinese & Irish bonded labor, nothing like those old plays to get reused.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 16:21 | 3598697 trader1
trader1's picture

Obama's 3-point (but far short of $3 trillion) infrastructure plan


The President’s plan will immediately invest $50 billion in our nation’s transportation infrastructure, with $40 billion targeted to the most urgent upgrades and focused on fixing our highways, bridges, transit systems, and airports most in need of repair.


a "new" New Deal?

...and the road-show

btw -

construction is ongoing @ ~ $4bn for the Tappan Zee replacement bridge


Sat, 05/25/2013 - 17:55 | 3598825 Aurora Ex Machina
Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Ah, thank you. Turns out I should have researched a bit, but I know why it fell under my radar. $50 bil just isn't going to register on the actual shopping list required.

$50 bil is a fantasy land peanuts for monkeys total ~ there's 100+ odd major bridges alone that are listed as structurally more at risk than the one that collapsed, which at even $500 mil each swallows the budget. Then you have everything else (road, rail, underground, river banks, avalanche defenses, wild raccoon traps etc etc etc).

For example:

Flood defenses alone is going to cost a few billion along the Mississippi plains (Following the Great Flood of 1993, U.S. researchers estimated that restoration of 13 million acres of wetlands in the upper portion of the Mississippi-Missouri watershed, at a cost of $2-3 billion, would have absorbed enough floodwater to have substantially reduced the $16 billion in flood damages.  [Nat Geo 2011]

The soaring cost of private flood insurance is pricing so many coastal homeowners out of the market that the rest of the American taxpayers are having to bail them out – to the tune of $30 billion under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

With over $139 billion in storm, wildfire, drought, tornado and flood damages taking nearly 1 percent of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012, the insurance industry is referring to last year as the second costliest year on record for U.S. climate-related disasters. And while insurers do include $12 billion worth of flood-related damages in their estimates, they aren't the ones getting stuck with most of the bill. It's us, the taxpayer.[Source Mar 2013]


I find it sadly depressing that America can't even accurately budget infrastructure these days. That's why the Army Corps of Engineers are useful in peacetime.

Sun, 05/26/2013 - 04:22 | 3599344 trader1
trader1's picture

spot on.  and we're still only talking about the transportation infrastructure...

the energy infrastructure is also in dire straits  (according to the ASCE)

...which also happens to fit nicely into the cyberwar narrative:

Cybersecurity specialists say the electric-power industry remains under-prepared to fend off attacks, particularly ones backed by a foreign government.

"If you were worried about cyberattacks against electric utilities five years ago, you're still worried today," said Jacob Olcott, a former cybersecurity aide on Capitol Hill now at GoodHarbor Consulting. "Some within the electric sector have become more savvy about security in recent years. Many are not."

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are stepping up pressure to bolster cybersecurity in the electric-power sector. Reps. Edward Markey (D., Mass.) and Henry Waxman (D., Calif.) issued a report this week citing security gaps in the computer networks running the electric grid.

Based on a survey of 150 power companies, the report found that "more than a dozen utilities reported 'daily,' 'constant' or 'frequent' attempted cyberattacks," and one said it was the target of about 10,000 attempted cyberattacks each month. The report found that many electric utilities were adopting only mandatory cybersecurity standards and not implementing voluntary added precautions. [WSJ May 2013]

Mon, 05/27/2013 - 07:21 | 3600709 Aurora Ex Machina
Aurora Ex Machina's picture

Ah, I'm not an American: I include energy within infrastructure costs. (Which is partly how I got to $3 trillion).

The cyberwar narrative is being changed (DHS vrs Intel community) into "going after the wolves" rather than defense btw. (Trending heavily, watch your Six Rogue Leader)

”...exactly because lone wolves – although operating alone – draw inspiration from other extremists or ideologues, disseminating counter narratives ought to be an important element of an effective CT strategy. A crucial ingredient of counter narratives is the de-legitimisation of perpetrators and their acts and the falsification of their is important to refrain from handing them the public theatre they strive for. ”

Lone Wolves in Cyberspace

The real threat now comes from the single individual, the ‘lone wolf’, living next door, radicalized on the internet, and plotting strikes in the dark. A lone wolf is an individual or a small group of individuals who uses traditional terrorist tactics – including the targeting of civilians – to achieve explicitly political or ideological goals, but who acts without membership in, or cooperation with, an official or unofficial terrorist organization, cell, or group.  The Unabomber, the Oklahoma City bomber, and the Fort Hood and Oslo attackers are examples of this new form of terrorism. Currently, less than two percent of terrorism in most countries that keep terrorism statistics can be attributed to lone-wolf terrorists but the problem is a rapidly growing one [1].  The report issued by the Institute for Safety, Security and Crisis Management on Terrorism (COT/TTSRL), which uses the RAND Terrorism Knowledge Base, reveals two trends: First, the number of lone-wolf attacks has increased in recent decades; second, lone wolves seem to come from all types of extremist ideological and religious groups [2]. [Source 2012]

With the support of NATO, legal experts have released a manual as a first broad attempt to codify how international law applies to state-sponsored hacking. The handbook, authored by legal experts working in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross and the U.S. Cyber Command, details what is or is not a legitimate target in cyberwarfare.

It states not only that full-scale conventional wars may be triggered by cyberattacks, but that civilian “hacktivists” can be targeted with conventional weapons if their cyberattacks seriously damage property or cause deaths. The handbook, titled “The Tallinn manual,” is primarily advisory and is not an official NATO document; the rules of cyberwarfare remain hotly debated. [Salon - Mar 19th 2013]


Yep: Drones using GPS to target civilians. I do hope your Proxies are 9 levels deep. But it's not only in cyberspace, meatspace is being shaped as well:

Journalists and analysts rushed to explain the attack as the work of “lone wolves”, “self-radicalised” online. Politicians demanded crackdowns on jihadi websites and the revival of the so-called “snoopers’ charter”, a Bill allowing the authorities to monitor the internet use of every person in the country, in the belief that the plot could somehow then have been detected. [Telegraph 25th May 2013]

"It's always the one we feared, the lone wolf that can come from nowhere and not be on our radar," said ex-London police chief John Yates.

On Wednesday two men hacked the soldier to death near his military barracks in Woolwich, southeast London before delivering a message to a witness's camera: "We swear by almighty Allah we will never stop fighting you until you leave us alone ... this British soldier is an eye for an eye, a tooth for tooth."[CNN  May 24th]


Viewers with a touch of cynicism will have already grokked this about the London attacks - he was neither unknown to MI5 nor was he "out of the blue":

Another potentially significant event was Adebolajo's arrest in 2010 in Kenya close to the border with Somalia. Kenyan authorities say they believe he was preparing to train and fight with the al-Qaida-linked Somali militant group al-Shabaab.

Adebolajo was later deported, but not before he was tortured, according to a friend who said the Londoner had gone abroad to study. Abu Nusaybah, who was arrested shortly after making the allegations in a BBC interview, in part attributed Adebolajo's radicalisation to his alleged ill-treatment in Kenya.[Guardian 26th May]


Totally unrelated:

Scruffy, broadly-smiling Zuk’s revenge is Palo Alto Networks, which sells the first new class of firewall in 11 years. The company successfully IPOed in July 2012, bringing in $260 million. Its products are crushing the competition. Palo Alto has only 4% of the $10 billion network security market, but it’s rapidly gaining share. In the most recent quarter its revenue was up 70% to $96 million, an increase of $40 million, equal to the entire revenue gain for all other firewall companies. Check Point, which has 15% of the market, grew by $12 million, up only 3%. [Forbes 27th Mar 2013 - useful for a reference to Unit 8200. Spooky people, probably on your computer already.]


Lastly, if anyone is confused about the recent ZH policy changes, I give you this:

This weekend MPs, including the Labour politician Paul Flynn, called on the company to prevent searches listing sites for groups such as the Islamist organisation Al Shabaab.

Schmidt said: "We cannot prima facie identify evil and take it down. We have taken the decision that information if it's legal, even if it's despicable, will be indexed."

He went on to argue that extremists are usually possible to detect through their internet activity and that their online presence can sometimes help.

"Extremists are not clever enough not to be found out. They leave a digital trail the police can follow," he said, after an interview with the mathematician Marcus de Sautoy.[Guardian 25th May 2013]

This obviously includes "radical" Neo-Nazi / Fascist groups, "Militias / Patriots", Deep-Green Environmentalists such as the ELF, radical Animal Rights groups such as the ALF and all the other various bogeymen that the security system infiltrates, moulds and uses to ensure budgets are kept topped up.

Being de-indexed is death to any site, especially one with ad-revenue, and is a very real threat. Bear that in mind you see the next whiny complaint about "my comments got nuked"; it's probably because ZH owners are smarter than you, and avoiding triggers. Also think very clearly about the whys and who is of "radical" sites you can easily access (including the Conspiracy sphere). Maps of the internet are useful for this, nudge nudge wink wink. I myself give Google a map of my thinking; the weak AI coming might need a little of the weird in it to combat all the dross of bureaucratic "thinking".




Gloves are coming off; treat everything you type / say within electronic media as fully compromised, and watch out for the "Lone Wolf" 5GW angle. Suffice to say, next time someone is friendly to you, be careful, especially if they're oh-so-sympathetic to your particular ideology. The polite end, Operation Ernest Voice is currently hot cakes all over places like Reddit etc, they're very obvious.

Oh, and here's an interesting PDF that's being run around the conspiracy sphere - FM 3-39.40  INTERNMENT AND RESETTLEMENT OPERATIONS [PDF - only "safe" version I could find, but treat with care; section K is a doozy]. Don't get caught in the mass paranoia, but treat it for what it actually is: although puppies around here don't believe in Climate Change, the American Military sure does. Everyone is planning for the big fucking crunch. esp. in places such as Bangladesh. Note: I don't find this manual surprising, nor is it "secret". You should see the UN white papers & higher up US ones ;)


Sic itur ad astra

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 11:01 | 3598294 Vidar
Vidar's picture

Pipelines are not properly maintained because the oil companies know the state will shield them from full liability for the damage they do to other people's property. The bureaucrats will insist they pay a "fine" (sic for extortion) into their coffers and in return make sure they don't get sued by everyone who was harmed by the spill. This allows the oil companies to predict the costs of a spill and therefore make a cost/benefit decision on whether or not maintain the pipeline. If they had to face full liability to everyone who was harmed by the spill the cost side of the equation would be much higher. Pipelines also often run through government-owned land, so the oil companies can deal with their bought and paid for politicians in the event of an accident instead of private land owners who would demand full compensation for damages.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 11:24 | 3598314 ThisIsBob
ThisIsBob's picture

At current rates, pipeline transportation over existing rail reduces the price of gasoline about .02 a gallon.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 11:29 | 3598320 blindman
blindman's picture

secondary containment and leak detection
could eliminate all spills. the technology
goes back to the mid eighties if not the
beginning of time. they don't want to spend
the money. that is all.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 13:12 | 3598461 viator
viator's picture

It would be much better to ship the oil by rail, that way Obama's buddy Buffet can make a lot of money off it

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 16:34 | 3598698 ThisIsBob
ThisIsBob's picture

If a pipeline fails, you are days/weeks/months before you are back in service.  If rr  cars derail, you are hours/days before you are back in service.

Couple of terrorists with some pressure cookers could shut down a pipeline real good - not so rail routes.

Sat, 05/25/2013 - 18:04 | 3598842 Meremortal
Meremortal's picture

So many?

What a load of crap. When you consider the miles of pipelines in the USA alone, the incidence of leaks is minuscule.

Kinder Morgan alone has 28,000 miles.



Sat, 05/25/2013 - 20:15 | 3598958 Darkside
Darkside's picture

A simple phrase "Berkshire Hathaway owns Burlington Northern amongst other railroad holdings and President Obama" have we forgotten this already.

Sun, 05/26/2013 - 09:15 | 3599520 PT
PT's picture

But but but ...  20 years of financial media has told me that pipeline spills aren't a problem becoz in competitive free markets, wasteful companies go bankrupt and are replaced by efficient entrepreneurs.  Just like if you have a lazy, overpaid cleaner.  You sack him and hire one of thousands of unemployed cleaners who'd love to work their guts out for fuck all pay.  This two-bit Exxon Mobil company will go broke and get replaced by one of thousands of efficient, free-market innovative entrepreneurial oil and pipeline companies who will do the job more efficiently and cheaply and pass on the cost savings to the consumers.  Cheap gas for awl!!!

And if there are enny more spills, that's because it is more efficient to have the occasional spill but it works out better all up becoz the free markets will clean it up for cheaper than what the oil company could clean it up for or its more efficient to have oily ground here and there and we're all better off.

... and, by the way, I'm a fucking retard moron and I'll prove it!!!  (In case you didn't notice.) 

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