This one bothers me. I’m going to rant in a second, but first I will summarize this 8/12 article in the Associated Press. Basically, an old pipeline in eastern Wyoming carrying diesel fuel was discovered ruptured and leaking. They patched the pipeline and determined it had spilled more than 45,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the soil on private land which they’re working to clean up.
Cleanup work is ongoing from the spill that was discovered by the pipeline’s operator on July 27, said Joe Hunter, Emergency Response Coordinator with the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.
It leached into sandy soil which they are digging it out of the ground and dumping in a temporarily location before placing on a road.
[...]it will be spread onto a nearby dirt road where the fuel is expected to largely evaporate, Hunter said.
This spill was caused by a weld crack. The pipeline was built in 1968 and was last inspected in 2019. Consequently, this Wyoming DEQ dingbat shrugs his shoulders:
“I’m not saying there wouldn’t be any down the road but for right now there won’t be” any enforcement actions by the state, Hunter said. “It’s an older pipeline and it’s one of those things that happen.”
The pipeline operator is quite the corporate neighbor:
The line is operated by Bridger Pipeline, a subsidiary of Casper-based True companies, according to an accident report submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard’s National Response Center.
True and its subsidiaries have a long history of spills. In May, federal prosecutors in Montana alleged that representatives of Bridger Pipeline had concealed from regulators problems with a pipeline that broke beneath the Yellowstone River near the city of Glendive in 2015. The break spewed more than 50,000 gallons (240,000 liters) of crude into the river and fouled Glendive’s drinking water supply.
In North Dakota, federal prosecutors and the state Attorney General’s Office are pursuing parallel claims of environmental violations against a second True companies subsidiary responsible for a 2016 spill that released more than 600,000 gallons (2.7 million liters) of crude, contaminating the Little Missouri River and a tributary.
Representatives of the companies have denied violating pollution laws and rejected claims that problems with the Montana line were concealed from federal regulators.
Oh, a number of things irritate me about this.
1. Just one of those things that happens?! Right, old pipelines just rupture left and right, we should just expect this! It’s practically normal for fuel to leak into the ground! Just happens all the damn time!! Let’s take it a step further Joe- why even try to maintain pipelines if we can’t possibly control accidents like this?
2. So freaking what if it’s an old pipeline? Then pay to maintain or replace it! “Sorry, no”, the executives say- “that would delay my fourth pool renovation and besides, I have three vacation homes to support.” Much cheaper passing on the external costs to…the public!! Apparently, nobody in Wyoming is out to limit that, see #1 above.
3. So it will “largely” evaporate, will it? Oh, that’s so nice. Tell me Joe Hunter, Department of Environmental Quality, then what portion doesn’t? What will be the contamination level in ppm or ppb for both soil and groundwater when it’s done? Or how about the dust in the air when the road is driven over? And which body of water might that be seeping into- the Powder River or somewhere else? There’s nothing quite like a fresh cup of hydrocarbons in our drinking glass in the morning thanks to your indifference. I’m sure the citizens in Glendive, Montana were absolutely delighted to have their drinking water poisoned thanks to this same company.
4. None of this addresses those VOCs we don’t really want dispersing into our atmosphere. Again, it’s out in “the open” so nobody gives a crap- let it evaporate off since that’s cheapest. Never mind the health effects and global warming, just spread it on the road into thin layers since it will evaporate fastest and cheapest that way.
5. This company has been damaging the environment for at least 7 years and they’re not shut down or fined yet? Montana is starting to figure it out, North Dakota is already on it. Wyoming’s response is “maybe one day, but probably not.” (*Shrugs shoulders*) I say if nothing else the federal government should have been able to hold this company accountable before the ticker reached Spill #3. At what point does the light bulb go off, “hey, maybe we should shut this down?”
6. Spill was discovered on 7/27, but it takes until 8/12 to notify the public. Maybe it’s in the local outlets sooner, but does the public deserve to know a little faster than that? “Nah, let’s tell them once it’s all done, the damage control is easier than telling them we leaked a shit ton of diesel but don’t know yet how much, because we’re still digging an Alice in Wonderland sized rabbit hole to find some virgin soil somewhere.”
So to paraphrase: “Damage Control Everyone, This is Fine. Don’t consider what “very far” means, we might have it contained, ignore how long it will really take to clean up and whose fault it is. It will all evaporate off to poison our atmosphere unless a portion doesn’t, then it will probably run off into our drinking supply, so it’s all good!!”