Dallas Marks Anniversary of Mayflower Tar Sands Spill

ExxonRichPegBroke

Last night Tar Sands Blockade and Texas Action Coalition for the Environment held a vigil in downtown Dallas at Pegasus Plaza to mark the one year anniversary of the Mayflower, Arkansas tar sands spill. One year after 210,000 gallons of tar sands spilled from Exxon’s Pegasus Pipeline, residents are still suffering major health complications and many were forced to leave their homes.

We read aloud the testimony of Ann Jarrell, a Mayflower resident who lived only a few hundred feet from the rupture site. Her three month-old grandson developed a severe lung infection and requires special breathing apparatus to this day. Ann herself suffered from debilitating headaches and other symptoms for months following the spill, and only saw improvement when her doctor ordered her to leave her home and never return – not even for a few minutes.

Exxon is attempting to restart a section of the 65-year-old pipeline in Texas any day now, requesting approval from the Pipeline & Hazardous Material Safety Administration. As of Friday night, PHMSA have yet to announce a decision on that request. As we await PHMSA’s decision, it is essential that Texans stand united to say that public safety, clean water and health are more valuable than fossil fuel wealth.

Inside Climate News attempted to obtain the restart plan and were told they would need to do a FOIA request:

When InsideClimate News asked for a copy of the restart plan that was sent to PHMSA in January—a document that would contain the details about the precautions being taken by Exxon—Exxon deferred to PHMSA. A PHMSA spokesman said parts of the plan might need to be redacted, so it could only be released to the public through a Freedom of Information Act request.

At PHMSA, however, getting documents through the Freedom of Information Act is typically a months-long process. InsideClimate News has uncompleted Pegasus-related FOIAs that date back to last June.

“The fact that anything related to repairs or tests would have to be FOIA’d is pretty outrageous,” said Steven Da Silva of the Safe Community Alliance, a Texas group that has been highlighting the risks posed by the Pegasus and other pipelines. “Before there’s any forward progress on the discussion to reopen it, the public needs to know what exactly is the condition [of] the pipeline.”

Every single weld on the Pegasus Pipeline is below today’s welding standards, and there are thousands of anomalies and instances of 30-70% metal loss due to corrosion throughout the length of this pipeline. Now Exxon is trying to argue the southern section of the pipeline is not as dangerous as the section that spilled in Mayflower. Again from Inside Climate News:

The northern portion of the Pegasus—including where the pipe broke—was constructed in 1947 and 1948, using low frequency electric resistance welded (LF-ERW) pipe that’s known to be more prone to rupture because it often contains dangerous manufacturing defects as well as brittleness around the lengthwise seams.

In contrast, most of the pipeline’s southern leg—more than 80 percent of it—was built in 1951 from pipe that was fused using a different method called electric flash-weld (EFW). About 30 miles of the line was built using the same kind of pipe in 1954, and about 10 miles of pipe is much newer.

Industry research and failure studies have shown that EFW pipe is high on the list of problem pipe and has vulnerabilities that are similar to those at the heart of the Arkansas spill. PHMSA highlighted the troubled record of EFW pipe, calling it “susceptible to seam failure, even if to a lesser extent than low frequency ERW pipe.”

With so many documented problems, it’s hard to believe that anyone would send corrosive tar sands through 65-year-old pipelines. But Exxon doesn’t care about the families living along the pipeline route. Quarterly profits mean more to an Exxon CEO than families like Ann Jarrell’s. Exxon is rich, Pegasus is broke, no restart!

STRENGTH IN COMMUNITY, SOLIDARITY & MUTUAL AID! NO PEGASUS PIPELINE!

To learn more about the spill, read and watch our reports from the spill site one year ago: Dispatch 1 - Dispatch 2 - Dispatch 3 & 4 - Dispatch 5 - Dispatch 6
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Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/remember_mayflower/

One year after Mayflower Disaster, Exxon Pegasus Pipeline will Restart in Texas This Week

Reposted from Safe Community Alliance
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INTERACTIVE MAP of the aging pipeline:

View Pegasus Pipeline Southern Segment in a larger map

The 205-mile segment of the 20-inch diameter Pegasus Pipeline which runs from Corsicana to Beaumont, Texas was built over 60 years ago, in 1954. Since then, many things have changed. Where once the pipeline traveled through virtually unpopulated countryside carrying deisel oil, there are now lakes and neighborhoods under which it runs. This pipeline additionally has been exposed to the deteriorating factors of time, corrosion, and the diluted tar sands bitumen it so recently carried. More information about this stretch of pipeline should be seen at Pinewood Estates, and concerns an affected neighborhood that did not exist in 1954.

Pegasus in Fairfield Lake State Park

Pegasus in Fairfield Lake State Park

What has changed during the one year that this pipeline has been shut down? Probably nothing besides its age and continued exposure to external environmental factors. Since the time of the original April 2, 2013 Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) Corrective Action Order (CAO), ExxonMobil has always insisted that this southern section of its Pegasus pipeline should remain open (see Page 4,Issue 2, of May 10, 2013 Post-Hearing Decision regarding CAO), even though it is only five years newer than the segment that ruptured.

Pegasus Submerged

Pegasus Submerged

The major problem with re-starting this pipeline is the public’s lack of knowledge of the condition of the pipeline. The condition of much of the northern segment had been formally vetted thanks to the action of Arkansas Representative Griffin. His efforts to release the results of 2010 pig tests showed that ExxonMobil plowed right ahead with their transport of diluted tar sands bitumen in spite of the 4000-plus anomalies (dents, bad welds, corrosion – in places up to 70% of the 5/16-inch pipe thickness) that were found.

Pegasus Suspended

Pegasus Levitation

Unfortunately, even though SCA has prodded Texas congresspersons to push PHMSA & ExxonMobil to reveal test results on the southern segment, nothing has surfaced. It would seem that public awareness is not a priority. Nothing seems to have changed in ExxonMobil’s, or PHMSA’s attitudes about the safety of the Pegasus Pipeline. The likelihood that there are anomalies that have not been addressed remains very high.

Pegasus Levitation

Pegasus Levitation

Certain environmental conditions might tend to have led to potentially more anomalies in this southern segment. There is a distinct climatological diference between the northern, Patoka(IL)-to-Corsicana(TX)segment, and that of the southern, Corsicana-to-Beaumont portion. Consulting historical climatological data maps, one notices that from Corsicana towards Beaumont and the Texas Gulf Coast average annual precipitation increases from about 36 inches, to 55 inches. Average temperatures change from 67 degrees Fahrenheit at Corsicana, to 70 at Beaumont. Precipitaion ranges from 41 inches at Patoka, up to about 55 inches near Mayflower, Ar., and then back down to 36 inches at Corsicana, while temperatures range from 57 degrees at Patoka, and 65 at Mayflower, to 67 at Corsicana.

Pegasus Suspended

Pegasus Suspended

Soil moisture and temperature together affect the rate of external chemical corrosion of buried metal pipe. With the warmer, wetter soils where the southern segment of the Pegasus Pipeline is buried, one would expect to experience greater rates of external corrosion. Then there are those locations where the pipe is not even buried.

Menard Creek Crossing

Menard Creek Crossing

Probably the most burning issue involving the re-start of the Pegasus Pipeline is the question of what exactly it will be transporting. ExxonMobil will likely say that it will be carrying West Texas crude oil; and that may very well be something that it does transport. But with the fact that this leg of the Pegasus begins at a tank farm at Corsicana, and that construction of the new Seaway Loop, destined to carry diluted tar sands bitumen, just like its twin, will place it right next to this tank farm, it becomes easy to see that dilbit is still in the picture for the Pegasus.

Menard Creek Again

Menard Creek Again

There are too many unknowns for the public to feel comfortable with the Pegasus Pipeline re-starting. There is more than enough history with this pipeline, and with ExxonMobil’s “profits first” attitude for the public to feel comfortable with the Pegasus Pipeline re-starting.

ExxonMobil Pegasus Pipeline

ExxonMobil Pegasus Pipeline

Safe Community Alliance opposes the re-start of this Pegasus Pipeline.

Pinewood Estates

Pinewood Estates

 

Segment in Pinewood Estates

Segment in Pinewood Estates

 

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/pegasus_restart/

Report: PHMSA Documents Reveal Abysmal Inspection of Keystone XL Gulf Coast Segment

Update: this report is now available for download as a PDF here.

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Documents recently obtained from the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the federal regulatory agency tasked with overseeing and inspecting millions of miles of pipelines across the US, show that the Keystone XL Gulf Coast Project has not been adequately inspected.

The inspection documents are available here (see “References” below) for public scrutiny and perusal. For construction and inspection purposes, KXL-South was split into 3 “spreads”. Included below are links to “inspection reports” for each spread, as well as a spreadsheet (no pun intended) listing repairs done on faulty welds on spread 3 (4) and a general welding document listing failed weld rates for various welders of the pipeline. (5)

In what follows, we offer comments on the general nature of the inspection reports, followed by comments on specific noteworthy aspects of them. As we’ll be repeatedly referencing the documents, we encourage you to open them and see them for yourself!

General Comments

Looking at a typical inspection report (1, 2, 3), you’ll see entry fields for “Date”, “Hours Worked”, “Weather”, “Temp” (low and high), “Owner/Operator”, “Spread” (usually), “Owner”, “Contractor”, and “Observed Activity”. Below these are 3 boxes that establish location, namely “Station #”, GPS location, and approximate MP (mile post). And below that is an open space for comments. Finally, below this space is (sometimes) a line for the inspector’s name and signature.

That’s pretty much all there is to these inspection reports. PHMSA apparently sees measurements such as the day’s weather as more meaningful than measurements that actually establish code compliance during pipeline construction. And in these documents, a lot of the useful information isn’t even there. Looking at the boxes that establish location, you’ll notice that they’re almost never filled out in any of these inspection reports. Spread 2 has at least a few mile post markers listed here and there, but Spreads 1 & 3 are virtually devoid of any useful geographical data. So what good are these inspection reports if they can’t be meaningfully tied to where they were done?

The most substantial section of these reports (and calling them substantial is giving PHMSA a lot of credit) is the comments section, but this section is embarrassing, too. Looking through the comments, they read like “we did this”, “we saw that”, “we came to inspect but it was raining so people weren’t doing anything”, “I warned them that so-and-so was unsafe”. There’s sadly a grade-school level of rigor in these reports… save for some technical jargon here and there, one couldn’t be too blamed if these inspection reports were confused with the hypothetical journal entries of middle-school students visiting a pipeline construction easement on a field-trip. One of our favorite examples is below.

Continue reading »

Permanent link to this article: http://www.tarsandsblockade.org/abysmal-inspections/

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