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Pipeline Spews 20,600 Barrels of Fracked Oil Amidst Government Shutdown
By Steve Horn
Though the spill occurred on Sept. 29, the U.S. National Response Center—tasked with responding to chemical and oil spills—did not make the report available until Oct. 8 due to the ongoing government shutdown.
"The center generally makes such reports available on its website within 24 hours of their filing, but services were interrupted last week because of the U.S. government shutdown," explained Reuters.
The "Incident Summaries" portion of the National Response Center's website is currently down, and the homepage notes, "Due to [the] government shutdown, some services may not be available."
At more than 20,600 barrels—equivalent to 865,200 gallons—the spill was bigger than the April 2013 ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline spill, which spewed 5,000-7,000 barrels of tar sands into a residential neighborhood in Mayflower, AR.
Kris Roberts, environmental geologist for the North Dakota Department of Health Division of Water Quality told the Williston Herald, "the leak was caused by a hole that deteriorated in the side of the pipe."
“No water, surface water or ground water was impacted," he said. “They installed monitoring wells to ensure there is no impact now or that there is going to be one."
Roberts also told the Herald he was impressed with Tesoro's handling of the cleanup.
“They've responded aggressively and quickly," Roberts commented, also noting that the cleanup will cost upward of $4 million. “Sometimes we've had to ask companies to do what they did right off the mark. They're going at this aggressively and they know they have a problem and they know what they need to do about it."
Tesoro Logistics Chairman and CEO Greg Goff also weighed in on the spill.
"Protection and care of the environment are fundamental to our core values, and we deeply regret any impact to the landowner," said Goff in a press release. "We will continue to work tirelessly to fully remediate the release area."
Pipeline to Albany Refinery, Barging on the Hudson
Tesoro's six-inch pipeline was carrying oil obtained via the controversial hydraulic fracturing process to the Stampede, ND rail facility. From Stampede, Canadian Pacific's freight trains take the oil piped from Tesoro's pipeline and ship it to an Albany, NY holding facility by Global Partners located along the Hudson River.
Albany, NY Global Partners Facility. Image credit: Google Maps
"Over five years, the equivalent of roughly 91 million barrels of oil will be transported via CP's rail network from a loading facility in Stampede, N.D., to a Global terminal in Albany," explained a September story appearing in the Financial Post.
Albany's holding facility received its first Canadian Pacific shipment from the Bakken Shale in December 2011, according to Bloomberg, with 1.4 million barrels of storage capacity. The facility receives 149,000-157,000 barrels of Bakken crude per day from Canadian Pacific.
Once shipped to Global's Albany holding facility, much of the oil is barged to market on tankers along the Hudson from the Port of Albany.
"As much as a quarter of the shale oil being produced in North Dakota could soon be headed by rail to the Port of Albany," explained an April 2012 article appearing in the Albany Times-Union. "The crude oil...will be loaded onto barges to be shipped down the Hudson River to refineries along the East Coast."
North Dakota Petroleum Council Responds
North Dakota Petroleum Council's response to the largest fracked oil spill in U.S. history and one of the biggest onshore spills in U.S. history? Ho-hum.
"You know, this is an industrial business and sometimes things happen and the companies are certainly responsible to take care of these things when they happen," Petroleum Council President Ron Ness told KQCD.
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Climate change is having a grizzly effect on Mount Everest as melting snow and glaciers reveal some of the bodies of climbers who died trying to scale the world's highest peak.
The Navajo Nation have decided to stop pursuing the acquisition of a beleaguered coal-fired power plant in Arizona, locking in the plant to be taken offline and its associated coal mine to close later this year.
A Navajo Nation Council committee voted 11-9 last week to stop pursuing the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station, which with the Kayenta coal mine provides more than 800 jobs to primarily Navajo and Hopi workers as well as tribal royalties.
A coalition of utilities that own the plant said in 2017 it would cease operations due to increased economic pressure, and the plant's future has proved a flash point for national and regional energy policy and raised larger questions on how Native communities will handle ties to fossil fuel industries as the economy changes.
For a deeper dive:
By Jeff Turrentine
Is it just us?
Other countries don't seem to have a problem getting their high-speed rail systems on track. This superfast, fuel-efficient form of mass transit is wildly popular throughout Asia and the European Union. Japan's sleek Shinkansen line, the busiest high-speed rail system in the world, carries an estimated 420,000 riders every weekday. In China, the new Fuxing Hao bullet train now hurries more than 100 million passengers a year between Beijing and Shanghai at a top speed of 218 miles an hour, allowing its riders to make the trip of 775 miles — roughly the distance from New York City to Chicago — in about four and a half hours. Spain, Germany and France together have more than 4,500 miles of track dedicated to high-speed rail, over which more than 150 million passengers travel annually.
By Coda Christopherson (11) and Lea Eiders (15)
Growing up in a plastic-free home, I was sheltered from the plastic waste crisis. I (Coda) went to a very progressive school that had vegan lunch items, farm animals and ran on solar power. My mom produces zero-waste events and my dad is a sailor, so we're very passionate about the ocean. When I was nine years old, we moved back to Manhattan Beach, California and I started 3rd grade in a public school. This was the first time I really understood that plastic-free living is not the norm; single-use plastics were everywhere, especially in the cafeteria. Once I recognized this problem, I knew I had to make a difference.
Henry Avocado issued the recall Saturday after a routine government inspection at its California packing facility turned up positive test results for the bacteria on "environmental samples," the company said in a statement. No illnesses have been reported.
Oil executives gathered for a conference laughed about their "unprecedented" access to Trump administration officials, according to a recording obtained by Reveal from the Center for Investigative Reporting.
In the recording, taken at a June 2017 meeting of the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) at a Ritz-Carlton in Southern California, members expressed excitement about one official in particular: David Bernhardt, who had been nominated that April to be deputy secretary at the Department of Interior (DOI). Bernhardt would be confirmed the following month.
"We know him very well, and we have direct access to him, have conversations with him about issues ranging from federal land access to endangered species, to a lot of issues," IPAA political director Dan Naatz said in the recording.