I lived for 4 years in Marshall Michigan were this spill occurred. I met my wife there. Lots of her family still back there, some of whom were directly affected by this spill as their already low property values plummeted and they are stuck with homes they can't sell. I don't have a lot to add to the story at this CNN link except to say this one is particularly personal and pisses me right the fuck off.
Feds: Operator knew of pipeline problems years before Michigan oil spill
(CNN) -- The operator of an oil pipeline that cracked in 2010 and gushed nearly a million gallons of oil into a Michigan creek and river failed to make repairs and take appropriate action after recognizing structural problems several years earlier, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday.This is something we hear time and time again in disaster stories. Problems are known but not dealt with. But they tell us... "Regulations are too burdensome. Insurance costs too much money. Individuals are awarded too much money in court"... when their lives are destroyed by such negligence.
According to the NTSB, the incident was the largest oil spill in the Midwestern United States. Federal officials say cleanup costs have exceeded $800 million.But of course the company pays a price... right?
The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration proposed a $3.7 million civil penalty, while recommending additional measures to improve training, oversight and accountability.Hmmm... missing some zeros are we? Who paid for the $800 million? How much money went to home and land (lots of farm land along the creek there) owners?
"Learning about Enbridge's poor handling of the rupture, you can't help but think of the Keystone Kops," Hersman said.Or Keystone XL
The pipeline, owned by Enbridge, split open and started spewing oil about 6 p.m. on July 25, 2010, according to the NTSB report. The 6½-foot long and 5-inch wide rupture gushed for 17 hours and 19 minutes.17 hours pumping oil into Talmadge Creek and then the Kalamazoo River. 17 hours.
During the spill, three shifts of employees monitoring the pipeline from the command center in Edmonton, Alberta, received multiple warning alarms, but dismissed them as being caused by column separation, or bubbles of vapor in the pipeline, according to the NTSB investigation.I don't even know what to say about all that. 17 hours. The pipe usually pumps 190,000 barrels or close to 8 million gallons of oil a day. They estimate the spill at 1 million gallons.
"Instead of stopping the flow, Enbridge staff twice pumped more oil -- about 81% of the total release -- into the ruptured pipeline," Hersman said.
People in the area called 911 to report the smell of gas or oil, but the emergency responders didn't find the leak, and were unaware of the pipeline in the area, the report found.
Had crews known about the Enbridge pipeline, that knowledge could have prevented additional damage, investigators concluded.
The oil spill was eventually discovered by a local utility worker and reported to Enbridge's control center, where the flow was stopped.
The leak was caused by cracks forming on the pipe in an area where the waterproofing tape had pulled away and the pipe was corroding, investigators said.2004 and 2005 and the spill was 2010.
The 41-year-old carbon steal pipe was inspected by an Enbridge contractor for rust in 2004 and cracks in 2005.
"The defect that caused the rupture at Marshal was misclassified," and as a result it "remained in the pipeline unabated until the rupture," wrote Ravindra Chhatre a member of the NTSB staff.
The inspections identified the problems in the area of the eventual leak, but engineers, following what the NTSB called "ambiguous" regulations, decided the problems weren't bad enough to be fixed.Too much onerous regulation, eh?
The company's response to the leak was faulted by the NTSB, which said the initial work done by the company's employees was ineffective and the closest spill response contractor was 10 hours away.10 hours away and local emergency responders didn't even know the pipe was there? Why were we running a pipeline from Canada down into the US and then back up into Canada anyway? Why are we considering a pipeline to run from Canada down through the states to the gulf for gas to be sold elsewhere? What's the deal here?
The NTSB staff concluded that if the required oil spill-response plan had been thoroughly reviewed before the leak, it would not have been approved.Yeah, well, it is my experience that lip service is often served to contingency plans cuz, you know, what could possibly go wrong?