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This blog is cross-posted at StewartAcuff.com

There is thick, heavy, sticky, and dangerous oil sands oil running through the streets, yards, and into the storm sewers of a Little Rock, Arkansas suburb resulting from a 22 feet long break in an Exxon pipeline. (See the video above to view aerial footage and comprehend the extent of the damage.)

Exxon, of course, is just one American energy company that pays NO US FEDERAL TAXES.

One of the most curious things about this environmental and human disaster is that, for the most part, the national media is ignoring this crisis – a crisis that should be at the top of the news. It should be at the top of the news, because the oil inundating the neighborhood is the same type of oil sands oil that would be carried across the breadth of America by the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The oil gunk flowing through the Little Rock suburb is thick, heavy, sticky tar sands oil that WE HAVE NO IDEA HOW TO CLEAN UP.

WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT CAUSED THE PIPELINE RUPTURE. There was no earthquake, tremor, or routine road building blast that could have caused this pipeline failure – all eventualities that would sooner or later occur in the area of a massive pipeline running across the breadth of America.

The pipeline that failed was only 65 years old, practically new in the world of energy pipelines. One could surmise or guess that one reason the pipeline failed is that the tar sands oil is so much heavier than the oil and natural gas we typically transport through pipelines.

The Little Rock oil inundation should be a huge and loud wake up call to all of us, especially lawmakers, because it is the same kind of oil that would flow through the very controversial pipeline. Exxon has done a great job rewarding their friends. So far, the Members of the Arkansas Congressional delegation who supported the Keystone XL pipeline before this disaster continue to support XL.

As the tar sands oil spills into the storm sewers, lawns, yards and green spaces of Arkansas, it will surely seep into the water system including the Arkansas River that flows into the Mississippi River.

Kids have been sent home from school complaining of headaches and sickness. Of course, the medical doctors who are part of the 600 member Exxon team sent in to try to contain and clean up the mess and massage the media, say the kids are just too sensitive, that the tar sands oil is not affecting the air quality. Really?

© Creative Commons Copyright 2013

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Stewart Acuff is the former organizing Director of the AFL-CIO. Acuff has also written two books: Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing, and Getting America Back to Work.
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Comment Preferences

  •  It's not a spill. The pipe was under (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jacey, bfitzinAR

    pressure and it exploded. 65 years is old for anything. Never mind pipes through which corrosive substances flow.

    What is surprising is that the argument that the new pipeline is needed to replace the old isn't being made. Perhaps it's just a matter of not admitting that they know the installation is corroded and unsafe. The U.S. is very forgiving of "accidents." Negligence, not so much.

    Mayflower is hardly a suburb of Little Rock. Roland, which is closer, is not a suburb.

    We organize governments to deliver services and prevent abuse.

    by hannah on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 07:31:29 AM PDT

  •  Exxon is not very happy (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, bear83, jacey

    with us for giving so much attention to the spill.

    Tar sands oil spill photos

    ....which makes tar sand oil spill education all the more irresistible.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 07:32:32 AM PDT

  •  Foxes in the henhouse (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cotterperson, bear83, jacey
    ...the 600-member Exxon team sent in to try to contain and clean up the mess....
    Wow, look at that!  Oil pipelines do create jobs!  600 of them, in fact.  Never mind that the "Exxon team" has a kind of a fox in the henhouse aspect to it. Hey, that's just business as usual - they got caught, so they have to try to make themselves look good while attending to the negative externalities.

    FOX News: For entertainment purposes only. Not to be confused with actual news broadcasting.

    by IowaBiologist on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 07:45:34 AM PDT

  •  There's a device (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jacey

    that looks like a barrel-shaped valve, and sends out electronic signals in every direction, called a "smart pig (Pipeline Inspection Gauge)."

    They can send it periodically thru pipelines and it can sense, with the signals, where the pipeline wall may be weakening.

    It had been almost 3 years since the Pegasus pipeline had been pigged.

    A "pig"  cannot negotiate sharp bends and turns, and some kinds of valves,  in a pipeline route, so they cannot "pig" some of the older gas pipelines.

    New pipelines are required to be "pig-able."
    Crude oil pipelines would all have to be pig-able, because other types of pigs are needed to clean out crude oil residues periodically.

    One factor regarding the old gas pipeline that blew up in San Bruno California was that it couldn't pigged, and the above ground sensing didn't find that weakened pipe, thus allowing a residential neighborhood to disappear in a 1000-foot-high fiery cloud that killed eight.

    Most existing gas pipelines can't currently be pigged.  

    That wouldn't be a bad comment for the Keystone EIS, about how often they will run smart pigs thru that pipe.

    Orly, it isn't evidence just because you downloaded it from the internet.

    by 6412093 on Fri Apr 12, 2013 at 09:54:29 AM PDT

  •  This doesn't match anyone else's comments (0+ / 0-)

      Even EXXON - which issued a press release that they had upgraded the Pegausus line in 2009 to increase the size of the pipe used.
        Other news out yesterday was that there is a 22' long gash in the pipe.

         The problem, IMO, is that the more that EXXON keeps out the media and doesn't release information - who should we trust.
          The State AG has been aggressive (yeah) and at the same time very critical about how EXXON was playing games.  

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